Movie News & Reviews

We got a peek inside Raleigh's new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. Here's what we found out.

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.

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.

The exterior of the Alamo Draft House movie/restaurant complex on New Bern Ave. in Raleigh features a custom mural on its storefront, seen on April 4, 2018. In addition to movie theaters, food, and drinks, it will also offer an extensive VHS and DVD rental section. It is slated to open around the end of April. Chris Seward

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.

Invited guests for a sneak preview wait for the presentation to start in one of the 11 theaters at the Alamo Draft House Raleigh. Chris Seward

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.

The Alamo Draft House offers an extensive VHS and DVD rental section, part of which is seen here. Those who join the membership club will get free rentals. Chris Seward

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.

The bar features an extensive list of craft beer on tap. Chris Seward

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.

A film clip featuring actor Chadwick Boseman warns moviegoers not to talk or text at the Alamo Drafthouse in Raleigh. The theater strictly enforces a no talk/no text policy, kicking out patrons who do not adhere to the rules. Chris Seward
David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

Want more?

The theater is at 2116-D New Bern Ave. Raleigh. Go to for details.

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