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.
The Castro Theatre (San Francisco, CA)
Built in 1922, the cathedral-like Castro Theatre is one of the country's oldest, and most recognizable, movie palaces. The theater – which turns 92 this year – continues to pay tribute to its history by mixing elements of old and new. Don't be surprised to see today's biggest box office hit playing alongside a restored French New Wave classic, followed by a Frozen sing-a-long.
Credit: Mitchell Funk / Getty Images
Why It Stands Out: Though The Castro boasts state-of-the-art projection capabilities, it also honors the filmmaking medium itself. It's one of the few theaters that can both re-create an authentic silent film experience and project a 70mm film.