Alamo Drafthouse’s Video Vortex Reimagines the Old-School Video Store

Who said DVDs are dead? To the delight of Angeleno cinephiles, Alamo Drafthouse will bring its Video Vortex, an 80’s reimagined “video store/bar/arcade/board game store”, to its soon-to-be-opened Los Angeles location. The video rental store will rent DVDs and Blurays from its 40,000 library for free. This will be the cinema’s fourth Video Vortex outpost, with others in Brooklyn, NY, Raleigh, NC, and San Francisco, CA.

Alamo Drafthouse will enter into a year-long programming partnership with Vidiots Foundation, an iconic L.A. video store-turned film nonprofit, to host Vidiot’s special events with guests and screenings. Post-screening casual gatherings will follow each event. The partnership will kick- off with the series “Tales from the Video Store”. Established in 1985, Vidiots began as a Santa Monica neighborhood video store specializing in independent, rare and international movies with its beachside brick-and-mortar standing as local landmark until 2017. It has since become nonprofit with plans to reopen a physical store in the future. 

The cinema chain is also partnering with the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) for the preservation of video store collections across the country. Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League, as well as filmmakers such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Nicolas Winding Refn, Anna Biller and Frank Henenlotter, are among AGFA’s advisors. 

“Video stores made me a cinephile in the 80s and 90s. The culture and curation they provided were an essential part of my development and my knowledge about movies,” said Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League in a press release. “Our vision for Alamo Drafthouse moving forward is to have an archive of classic films available for free rental at nearly all of our theaters. When the opportunity became available to partner with the legendary Vidiots team and align on a common goal, we did not hesitate.”

“On behalf of Vidiots Foundation and our Board of Directors, I’m wildly delighted to join forces with Alamo Drafthouse and Video Vortex,” said Maggie Mackay, Board Chair of Vidiots Foundation. “Having Alamo in L.A. is a movie lover’s fantasy realized! Tim, Karrie, and the Drafthouse team’s commitment to preserving physical media and celebrating video store culture make them dream partners for us, especially as we near our 35th year in L.A. and prepare for the relaunch of our own brick-and-mortar.”

Video Vortex and Vidiots will join the ranks of some 2,000 brick and mortar video-stores that have survived the streaming carnage among which the world’s last Blockbuster in Bend, Ore.

But more than a video store, Video Vortex will also feature a curated selection of board games, for sale or onsite fun. The collection will include the Alamo’s flagship tabletop gaming initiative, resulting from the hiring of Ash Minnick, manager of Board Game events and former Producer at Geek & Sundry. Guests will also be able to enjoy a variety of board game launch parties, tournaments and play events as well as trivia night with the Alamo’s own Trivia Dome.

“Alamo has been a pioneer in changing the way we view cinema,” said Minnick. Their focus on interactivity makes gaming an obvious extension and we are beyond thrilled to explore new ways to delve into that world through one of a kind experience at the venue.”

Coming in the summer of 2019, the Alamo’s L.A. location marks a first for the circuit’s presence in Southern California. Nested in a retail hub in downtown L.A., the theater will feature twelve state-of-the art auditoriums, each equipped with 4K projectors and one with 35mm film, offering a slate curated for the city of Angels as well as new releases and cult favorite Terror Tuesdays and Weird Wednesdays. 

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