Sony Pictures acquires Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, marking a historic purchase in the dine-in theater industry

Sony Pictures Entertainment​ has acquired​ Alamo Drafthouse ⁤Cinema, becoming the first major film studio in⁤ over 75 years ⁤to purchase a theater chain. Alamo Drafthouse, based in Austin, Texas, and operating 35 locations, will retain Michael Kustermann as its CEO.⁣ Kustermann will‌ also head a new division under⁢ Sony called Sony Pictures Experiences,⁣ reporting to Ravi Ahuja, the‌ president and COO ‌of ‍Sony Pictures Entertainment. Kustermann expressed enthusiasm about joining forces‍ with Sony, viewing it as a favorable partnership for Alamo ​Drafthouse Cinema.

Sony Pictures Entertainment is acquiring Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, marking the first time a major film studio has purchased a theater chain in over 75 years.

The theater chain, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has 35 locations, will keep Michael Kustermann as its CEO. Kustermann will lead a new Sony division called Sony Pictures Experiences. Going forward, he will answer to Ravi Ahuja, the president and chief operations officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“We are excited to make history with Sony Pictures Entertainment and have found the right home and partner for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema,” Kustermann said. “We were created by film lovers for film lovers. We know how important this is to Sony, and it serves as further evidence of their commitment to the theatrical experience. Together we will continue to innovate and bring exciting new opportunities for our teammates and moviegoers alike.”

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is best known for standing out from competing theater chains by offering high-quality food that customers can order from waiters who will attend to viewers. The chain also plays old advertisements that tie into the film being played ahead of the showing.


Until 2020, movie distributors could not purchase theater chains due to the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Paramount Pictures Inc. from 1948. This was later terminated by a federal court in New York in August 2020, about five months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many theater chains, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic and even filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2021. It was revealed in March that the chain was exploring a possible sale.

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