Inside D.C. entertainment

Alamo Drafthouse's plans for Washington

January 23, 2012 - 09:00 AM
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Alamo Drafthouse
A screening of 'Semi-Pro' at an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. (Photograph courtesy Alamo Drafthouse)

Anthony Coco and Joseph Edwards of Cojeaux Cinemas really do hope to piss off D.C. residents who talk and text during movies soon.

Cojeaux, a meet-the-owners press release announced this morning, has purchased the rights to the Washington, D.C., market from the iconoclastic Alamo Drafthouse chain, beginning with a theater in Ashburn next spring.

"Obviously, we can't wait to get into D.C., says Coco, who's on the phone from Texas. "We have numerous sites we're looking at." They need a 30,000-square-foot building to install an Alamo Drafthouse, he says, "and it's Washington, D.C. We're doing our best." 

Besides the District, Cojeaux's territory includes Frederick, Montgomery, P.G., and Charles counties in Maryland, as well as Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun counties in Virginia. The Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, Va., the only Alamo currently operating outside of Texas, is run by a different franchisee.

Edwards says they're in negotiations with "numerous sites" within the District. But determining whether D.C. gets the next Alamo won't be a matter of just real estate. "It's got to fit our brand, and it's got to fit with the D.C. culture," says Coco.

"I'm not going to get into specific demographics," Coco says, when I ask exactly who they're trying to appeal to. "It's more of an adult environment," says Edwards. "We're an 18 and up type of establishment." 

Kids will be allowed in, but there are rules: No one under 18 will be allowed in without an adult. "We feel that helps reduce the distractions during the film," Edwards says.

And Alamo's war against distractions is legendary. The Washington-area theaters will offer all the offbeat experiences the chain has become known for: wacky openings, bespoke silk-screened posters, full bars, and food menus sometimes inspired by the movies showing. But if you talk during the film or whip out your phone, you'll be out on the street without a refund. 

Ashburn's Alamo will offer 40 beers on tap, says Coco, including a large number of "D.C. metro beers," he says, though he declines at this point to say which ones.

Edwards has been living in Alexandria for the last three months. "It's a little frigid for a Texas guy this weekend," he says. Coco will move here in about five months.

"I wish we could speak to more specifics on our growth, and hopefully we can do so in the future," says Edwards. "But we're doing our best to get into D.C. or the close-in suburbs."

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