The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema : cultivating the cult experience
De Ville, Donna, 1969-
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Creating a cinematic spectacle, an event that goes beyond the mere screening of a film to include audience participation and exhibitionism, is one of the ways the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, has chosen to compete with the proliferation of home movie viewing, multiplexes, and the complacency of the contemporary media consumer. In addition to serving quality food and drinks during screenings, the Alamo has built a far-reaching reputation and dedicated fan base by tapping into and modernizing retro-style movie-going experiences (e.g., promotional gimmickry and a drive-in theater atmosphere) and imbuing it with its own idiosyncratic personality. The significance of this project, beyond the case study of an unusual theater concept, is its attempt to examine the effect of exhibition practices, programming, and a theater's personality on the reception of texts, fan behavior, and the viewer's perception of self within the imagined community. Moreover, I examine the audience's interactions with one another and those who organize Alamo events to determine the nature of the relationship between the Alamo theater and its fans, which I argue is one based on cult fandom. I also consider the role of the theater in the socio-cultural lives of its patrons and the cultural economy of Austin.