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 Senator (Baltimore, MD)
Things haven't always been easy for this 75-year-old Art Deco movie house, which has closed its doors on more than one occasion. But The Senator still maintains much of its historic charm (including its original terrazzo floors in the lobby), and it has been cited by many individuals and organizations – including the National Trust for Historical Preservation – as the country's quintessential independent theater.
Credit: John E. Smith
Why It Stands Out: Sure, it showcases a nice mix of smaller indie films alongside would-be blockbusters, but the spotlight often shines back on the theater itself. Baltimore natives John Waters and Barry Levinson have premiered a number of their films at the theater, and its striking Art Deco façade has been featured in films like Diner, Twelve Monkeys, and Cecil B. Demented.