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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema revises its future with new leadership and leaner portfolio

The independent cinema chain announced the hiring of a new chief executive officer on April 30, with former CEO Tim League transitioning to the role of executive chairman. The next day it was unveiled that the company has sold Birth. Movies. Death. to Cinestate.

Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Movie exhibitors continue to scramble as they look for ways to keep their companies afloat while revising their business models to come out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic intact. Revenue remains almost nonexistent as cinemas continue to be shut down or are in the early stages of looking to reopen, which suggests tough decisions are looming.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema announced yesterday it has hired a new chief executive officer. Shelli Taylor, a former executive of Starbucks, Disney and United Planet Fitness Partners, assumes her new role as CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema effective May 1.

Taylor was most recently the president and chief operating officer of United Planet Fitness Partners, a role that included her overseeing its 169 facilities nationwide.

In a statement, Taylor said:

“I am incredibly honored and excited to assume the role of CEO at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Tim League and his talented team have built an unequaled cinema brand that is built on passion, innovation, and a local community mindset encompassing everything from food and drink to fantastic programming. I am committed to Alamo Drafthouse’s vision of sharing the films we love with the widest possible audience while offering the best moviegoing experience in the industry.”

Founded in Austin, Texas in 1997, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema operates 41 locations spread across the United States and is one of the most impactful independent cinema chains in the business.

Former Alamo Drafthouse Cinema CEO and company co-founder Tim League is staying with the theater chain, and transitioning to the role of executive chairman. League will oversee the company’s board of directors, and will focus on booking strategies, programming, and creative initiatives, which includes working with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's sister company, Mondo, and Fantastic Fest, an annual genre film festival, which League co-founded.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema CEO Shelli Taylor and Executive Chairman Tim League

League issued the following statement regarding the leadership transition:

“Six months ago I began searching for a CEO who could work as a partner and collaborator, with a strong voice and battle-tested leadership skills. Shelli Taylor brings that and more. As Executive Chairman I’ll continue to lead the brand, digging hard into developing new creative and marketing initiatives at Alamo Drafthouse, Mondo and Fantastic Fest.”

League also said:

“Alamo Drafthouse is the only leadership role I’ve ever known. I am in awe of the depth and breadth of Shelli’s leadership and brand growth experience. I am excited to partner with her to rise from the current challenges that our industry faces and continue to drive towards our company vision, to be the best damn cinema that has ever or will ever exist.”

The recent changes at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema don’t stop at the executive level.

In a separate announcement, Birth. Movies. Death. unveiled the morning of May 1 that it had been sold from Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to Cinestate, a Dallas-based movie studio that was founded in 2016 by Dallas Sonnier. Cinestate also owns Fangoria, the horror film magazine.

Birth. Movies. Death. had been part of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema family, supporting the theater chain's brand and its platform in various capacities. In addition to maintaining an entertainment news website that’s filled with film reviews and features, Birth. Movies. Death. regularly produced themed commemorative magazines to celebrate major film releases that were sold online and at Alamo cinemas, and it curated the 30-minute pre-shows shown in front of movies exhibited at Alamo’s theaters nationwide.

If or how Birth. Movies. Death. collaborates with its former parent company remains unclear. Evan Saathoff and Scott Wampler will remain with Birth. Movies. Death., serving as editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively.



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