Movie fanatics, rejoice: A snazzy cinema will take over the former home of the ShowPlace Icon Theater in the Seaport District starting early 2023.
That’s when Austin-based chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema plans to open a 10-screen theater with over 700 seats and luxury recliners at 60 Seaport Blvd. Its attached bar — dubbed The Press Room — will serve wine, craft cocktails, and local beers in an area that doubles as a printing museum with a functioning letterpress and more than 10,000 vintage movie ad plates from the 1930s through the 1980s on display.
“We’re using the existing space and set-up,” said Tim League, Alamo’s founder and executive chairman. “But of course, we will bring in a little bit of the Alamo character.”
The ShowPlace Icon Theater closed in March 2021 because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, WS Development, which operates retail space in the building, said it was “evaluating next steps and timelines for the theatre.”
Now, those changes have come together.
“We could not be more excited that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is coming to Seaport,” said Ariel Foxman, general manager of Seaport Boston WS Development, in a statement. “Their signature best-in-class movie-theatre experience is a boon for movie lovers in Boston.”
Founded in 1997, Alamo has locations in Texas, California, North Carolina, and more. It most recently launched a Manhattan theater in October 2021, with spots in Staten Island, Chicago, and Birmingham opening soon.
That counters the narrative about movie theaters during early COVID, when many suffered through prolonged restrictions and low foot traffic. Another newish theater downtown, the ArcLight Cinemas theater on Causeway Street, never re-opened after pandemic closures, and its space remains vacant.
The number of movies released to theaters is still well below pre-pandemic levels, and sales are still 34 percent below 2019 figures, Fortune reported. Thankfully, frequent moviegoers — who visit theaters once a month or more — have returned in droves, according to Variety.
League, the executive chairman, doesn’t seem concerned. He sees the Seaport cinema competing against places like comedy clubs and bars, rather than behemoth streaming services. Once open, Alamo will also join a host of nearby entertainment venues, including Scorpion Bar, Tuscan Kitchen, and Kings Bowling.
“The closure of communal entertainment outside the home made people realize how much they missed it,” League added. “Streaming is not our enemy — it’s our friend. Sometimes, you decide to stay on your couch. Sometimes, you need to come in.”