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.
New Beverly Cinema (Los Angeles, CA)
Since opening its doors in the 1920s, what is now known as the New Beverly Cinema has served as a vaudeville theater, a nightclub, a porn theater, and a grindhouse. In the late 1970s, The Beverly Cinema opened and became known for its double features (the first featured A Streetcar Named Desire and Last Tango in Paris). And when it was threatened with closure again in 2007, legendary film fiend Quentin Tarantino stepped in and bought the building, then told The Hollywood Reporter that “as long as I'm alive, and as long as I'm rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm."
Why It Stands Out: Tarantino's ownership is, of course, a lure for many cineastes. But it's the Torgan family – who purchased the theater in 1978 – that still runs the show. Which doesn't mean that Tarantino's programming opinions aren't welcome, as evidenced by the time Django Unchained had an extended run at the theater in 2012.
Credit: Aaron Jettleson