Alamo Drafthouse: Denver’s ticket to film culture


Posted Sun, Feb 18, 2018

Alexandra Griesmer (left) and Steve Bessette (right) at the Alamo Drafthouse Sloan’s Lake location on Sunday, Feb. 11. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

DENVER — Not only can moviegoers enjoy dinner and a flick, but can witness live music scores done by orchestras at the Alamo Drafthouse. They are known for curated programming such as independent films and Hollywood classics restored to the big screen as well as host to some of the biggest film festivals in the nation.

The Alamo Drafthouse prides itself in providing a unique movie experience, which is sure to excite movie buffs everywhere. Time Magazine named them “Best Theater Ever.”

It was founded in 1997 by Tim and Karrie League in Austin, Texas, who had a passion for movies with a side of food and beer. They started the company as a one-screen operation showing second run titles.

The Chris Herbst Jazz ensemble performs at BarFly on Sunday, Feb. 11. They perform every Sunday from 11-2pm at Alamo Drafthouse Sloan’s Lake. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Tim and Karrie League met at Rice University in Houston, Texas. In 1994, they left for Bakersfield, California to open their first theater called the Tejon. However, it only lasted two years because they were unable to get a liquor license. They moved back to Texas in 1997, where the first Alamo Drafthouse was built in Austin. There, the theater served a full menu that included beer and wine.

The first location in Colorado opened in Littleton in March 2013, and four years later a second establishment opened in the Edgewater neighborhood in Denver. They currently have 29 locations and continue to grow. Steve Bessette, creative director, said customers might save money while they broaden their film horizons. Bessette has a Hulu and Netflix account but still love the experience of going to a film.

Steve Bessette, creative director, at BarFly on Sunday, Feb. 11. He’s in charge of directing the creative team, which is the team of programmers. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

“I still believe that, for me, seeing a curated movie in the theater is the best way to see it,” said Bessette.

The Alamo Drafthouse is also open to suggestions from the public. Bessette would like to know what people want to see more of.

“If there’s enough demand for something, we want to do it,” said Bessette.

Some of the items on the menu include the “Crème Brûlée” French Toast, “Omnivore” & “Carnivore” Pizzas and the “Royale with Cheese” burger. If you need a tasty beverage to wash it all down with, there’s plenty to choose from. Everything from shakes, cocktails, craft microbreweries and their “Silence of the Lambs” signature wines.

Alexandra Griesmer, director of marketing for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Denver, at BarFly on Sunday, Feb. 11. She has been with the company for 3 1/2 years. [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Alexandra Griesmer, director of marketing, said students would enjoy the programming in BarFly, the bar at the Sloan’s Lake location. “We host bands, poetry readings, comedy nights and Mario Kart brunch battles, to name a few,” Griesmer said, “and all of these events are free.”

Technical director Kendal Hurst said the uniqueness of the Alamo Drafthouse is the wide range of specialty showings they provide. Many are rare and obscure films that aren’t typically shown on big screens anywhere else.

“We also have a projection team dedicated to maintaining our presentation and running events,” said Hurst. “We often have Q&A’s following screenings and we also still run shows on 35mm in Littleton.”

Some film festivals coming soon include Colorado Dragon Film Festival on March 2-4 for the first time at the Alamo. This event will present films from all over Asia, which for many of them will be their Colorado premiere. On April 28-30, Denver Silent Film Festival will show the best silent films at the Littleton location. Three of the programs will feature 2k digital restorations and include live musical performances. Additionally, Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go’s will perform with her new band Elettrodomestico on March 8 at BarFly.

Bring in your student ID for discount rates on movie tickets:

  • Before 12:00pm – $5.75
  • 3D before 12:00pm – $9.25
  • 12:00pm-6:00pm – $8.50
  • 3D 12:00pm-6:00pm – $12.00
  • After 6:00pm – $9.50
  • 3D After 6:00pm – $13.00

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About Kavann Tok

Kavann Tok is a freelance Denver-area journalist. Website:

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