North Richland Hills Alamo Drafthouse permanently closes as three D-FW theaters file for bankruptcy

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The Alamo Drafthouse site in North Richland Hills, closed since 2020, will not reopen, its owners announced Friday.

The announcement came as the location filed for bankruptcy along with two other Alamo Drafthouses in North Texas, the Richardson and Lake Highlands locations.

The Richardson and Lake Highlands theaters will remain open while the entities operating them go through Chapter 11 proceedings, the owners say. All other D-FW locations also plan to remain open.

Alamo Drafthouse locations in North Texas are operated by a separate group of franchisees from the Austin-based Alamo chain that controls theaters nationwide. The local group, led by Bill D. DiGaetano and Bill C. DiGaetano, operates six Alamos areas and one outside of St. Paul, Minnesota. In a statement on Friday, executives said the moves would help their group meet industry challenges.

The North Richland Hills Theater and its adjoining bar opened just under three years ago in a first event timed to coincide with the long-awaited Avengers: Endgame. With eight screens, it was the sixth Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas-Fort Worth and the first in Tarrant County.

All six Alamo theaters closed in 2020. The North Richland Hills site planned to reopen in July 2021. But as other Alamos turned their spotlights back on, it remained dark. In Friday’s statement, the owners said they were unable to renegotiate the terms of their lease for the location. Court records show the group owes nearly $3 million in rent, though it disputes that amount.

Other local cinemas have shown signs of rebounding lately, as coronavirus cases plummet and exclusive theatrical releases mean viewers can’t just stream the latest merchandise.

Earlier this month, a new Alamo from a different franchise group was announced for Grand Prairie.

And in the final fiscal quarter of 2021, Plano-based Cinemark achieved profitability for the first time since the pandemic began. The company earned $5.7 million for the three-month period ending December 31, 2021. That’s a big change from 2020, when it lost $239 million in the same period.

Some of the industry’s recent optimism stems from movie studios’ support for a 45-day window in which theaters get exclusives on new movies. At the start of the pandemic, studios resisted convention, making deals to release movies the same day they hit theaters. But the all-in-one approach petered out, much to the relief of exhibitors.

The Austin-based branch of Alamo Drafthouse, which operates about 40 sites across the country, went bankrupt last year. It emerged in June after selling to a group of investors including its founder, Tim League. Since then, the chain has announced plans to open new locations in several states.

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