Entertainment

Just when you thought the video store was a goner, Alamo Drafthouse is bringing it back

Streaming killed the video store, but could beer save it?

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a new meal-and-movie theater coming to Raleigh, plans to feature a video store where people can rent DVDs, Blu-rays and strange mechanisms called “VHS tapes.” Both are expected to open in the first quarter of 2018, the company said.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema announced in May an 11-screen theater, bar and restaurant for the Longview Shopping Center on New Bern Avenue. The theaters will have 660 seats.

On Monday, the company announced plans to launch VIDEO VORTEX in the lobby of the Raleigh location, the first theater in the company with a rental store.

Alamo describes the addition as “a reimagining of the classic video rental store.” There will a bar with 40 local craft beers and cocktails and a giant collection of movies for rent, many impossible to stream on any streaming site.

Over the years, as rental stores went out of business, Alamo CEO Tim League added to his collection of videos, amassing more than 30,000 titles. That collection will serve as a rentable archive in the new Raleigh Alamo Drafthouse. VIDEO VORTEX is the name of a long running Alamo program, where theaters show these cult classics on the big screen.

The rental store will feature Blu-rays and DVDs, but the crown jewel of the rental store will be one that validates people who have held onto VCRs over the years: “a massive rental selection of rare VHS tapes, including titles never released on digital formats.” Don’t worry if your old VCR was sent to the crusher years ago – VORTEX will rent the contraptions to take home.

“VHS is still the only way to see hundreds of forgotten genre movies,” said Alamo spokesman Joseph A. Ziemba. “But in this era of rare tapes selling for insane amounts of money, VIDEO VORTEX will make them easily accessible for everyone in the Raleigh film community.”

Straight-to-VHS typically doesn’t mean the heights of American cinema, but within these titles, campy, cult classics are often beloved titles.

“The straight-to-video history in the film world is really vulnerable,” said Steve Popson, creative manager for Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh.

“We want to celebrate these straight-to-video titles, these weird, super DIY, independent movies,” said Kristy Breneman, also creative manager for the Raleigh Alamo Drafthouse. “Many movies today are automatically preserved digitally, but that’s not the case for a lot of these titles. We want to be a place for people to discover these super-obscure films.”

The store will also sell a selection of Blu-rays, film-related merchandise and collectible art.

Alamo is also looking for someone with a vast knowledge of movies to run the rental store.

“We want someone with that anthology of knowledge and the joy of sharing movies to bring back that human interaction (of going to a video store),” Popson said.

The last local Blockbuster store closed in early 2014 in the Wakefield Commons shopping center. The locally owned North American Video closed its last location in Raleigh in December 2015. Avid Video, perhaps the last video store in the Triangle, closed in 2016.

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