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Yes, the Owner of a Movie Theater Chain Feels Bad for Me


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Yes, the Owner of a Movie Theater Chain Feels Bad for Me

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy during the pandemic, but its founder, Tim League, is still bullish on the future of moviegoing.


Aug. 23, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

Produced by ‘Sway’

When Kara Swisher wrote a column declaring her love for Vin Diesel and predicting that we will not be returning to movie theaters, Tim League felt sorry for her. He’s the founder of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a luxury movie theater chain that opened in Austin over 20 years ago and has since expanded nationally. The pandemic has not been kind to the company, which he notes was in “dire” condition by December and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year. But League still remains bullish about his industry and the value of the theater experience.

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Swisher and League debate whether the rise of streaming giants means the end of cinemas, big and small. They also discuss the challenge of hiring and retaining workers, pushed release dates for movies like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and whether a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon would buy a theater chain like Alamo. Mostly, though, they agree to disagree.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)


Credit…Photograph by Annie Ray

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“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Caitlin O’Keefe, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair and Michelle Harris; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Sonia Herrero; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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