Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is almost ready to open its first North Carolina location in Raleigh with the opening set for the end of April.
The theater at New Bern Avenue will be Alamo's 31st cinema nationwide. Like its other theaters, the Raleigh Alamo will offer an eclectic slate of first-run hits, retro revivals and signature special events presented in an atmosphere that's pretty much movie-nerd paradise.
And that includes Video Vortex, the video rental store and bar located in the lobby. More on that in a bit.
We got a sneak peek inside. Here's what we found out.
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1. The exterior is a very cool mural.
Painted by Birds of Avalon drummer and noted muralist Scott Nurkin, it shows various "scapes" — land, sea, sky and so on — meant to evoke fantasy settings for films. While it's still a work in progress, the finished mural will include lots of movie references, obscure as well as well-known.
2. It's a pretty roomy theater.
Sandwiched between a chiropractor's office on one side and a Family Dollar store on the other, this strip-center space used to house a Winn-Dixie grocery store. That's been converted to a good-sized lobby, with 11 screens in separate theaters. Capacities in those theaters range from 49 to 109 people.
The Alamo has old-fashioned 35-millimeter projectors for screening rare prints, plus the latest new-fangled digital and laser technology for the current films. And the recliner seats in the theaters are very comfortable.
3. Video is spoken here.
One of the Alamo's unique aspects is a movie-rental operation in which you can rent up to two titles per day — for free. Dubbed the Video Vortex, it has a library of 75,000 titles with foreign films, documentaries and super-weird experimental films.
Around 10,000 of those titles are on old-fashioned videotapes, rescued from a San Francisco rental store that went out of business. The entire place is pretty much a homage to the humble videocassette as physical artifact, with various works of art and even a couple of video players based on the shape of videotapes.
VCRs and Blu-Ray players will be available for rent. Crowlers (canned growlers) also will be available to take home beer. Plus, there will be video-store themed cocktails, milkshakes and non-alcoholic drinks. Be on the lookout for the VHStival in October, to highlight VHS-only releases.
4. A North Carolina flair
The Alamo has a full kitchen with a pretty extensive food menu, plus 48 different beers. And a lot of the items on that menu are themed to North Carolina. For example, there's the "Mayberry RFD Shake," which stands for "Really Flippin' Delicious" — and involves blueberry pie and Cheerwine.
The food will be delivered to your seat.
5. No texting
And they really, really mean it: Anyone who talks or texts is subject to removal. And if you call to complain about that and leave an angry message, it just might get turned into a PSA announcement clip like the one they play before screenings.
Tickets for screenings will be $11, by the way.
The theater is at 2116-D New Bern Ave. Raleigh. Go to drafthouse.com/raleigh for details.