For Tim League, CEO and founder of the Alamo Drafthouse, a great movie theater is achieved two ways: "Greatness by beauty and technical presentation – like at the remodeled Chinese Theater in Los Angeles and the Paramount in Oakland." Or by being "a movie theater by movie fans for movie fans."
His theater does both: “I used to be the sole creative force at the Alamo back in the old days," he says of the parking garage-turned-indie theater he and his wife opened in Austin back in 1997. “As we've grown, I've invested heavily in recruiting passionate film nerds to help us continue to strive to be great. My single greatest challenge is to not lose sight of what the Alamo Drafthouse stood for in the beginning."
The number of theaters in the world as dedicated to movie-watching as the Alamo are relatively small. We scoured the globe and came up with theaters that shun texting, revere great film, and will even serve you a cocktail. Here are the top 20 theaters in the world.
Cinémathèque Française (Paris, France)
Part theater, part research facility, Cinémathèque Française's is home to one of the world's largest film archives, plus an enormous collection of film-related documents and objects. Many of the best-known directors to emerge from the French New Wave – François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, and Claude Chabrol among them – have credited Cinémathèque Française as being part of their “film school."
Credit: Lydia Evans / Getty Images
Why It Stands Out: The venue's current space in Paris' 12th arrondissement is not its original location, but it is its most striking, nestled into a postmodern building designed by Frank Gehry. It's tough to match those kind of visuals, but this theater manages to do it.