Colorado’s third location takes on a ‘Metropolis’ theme and features all reclining seats with footrests
The old Hollywood feel of the Westminster Alamo at 89th Avenue just west of Sheridan Boulevard joins locations in Littleton and near Sloan’s Lake, and is inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece “Metropolis.” That’s the German science-fiction classic set in a utopian futuristic city that rests precariously above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers. The film, and its era, inform everything about the new Alamo, inside and out. That includes the opulent exterior, lobby, concept bar and posters lining the walls.
“It all began with the marquee,” said Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO. “The city of Westminster wanted to see a classic Golden Era cinema marquee. That idea resonated with me, and it inspired the Fritz Lang theme of the interior.”
Here are five more fun things to know about the funky theatre chain that has popularized dinner at your seat, specialty film programming and made texting during a film a crime punishable by death (or at least ejection):
1. The new Alamo has nine auditoriums and 931 seats. Of greatest interest to moviegoers: This will be Alamo’s first Colorado location to be fully outfitted with recliner seats and footrests. The largest theatre, dubbed “The Big Show,” seats 245, making it by far Alamo’s biggest in Colorado. The smallest theatre seats 69. While each theatre is equipped with top-of-the-line digital 4K projection and surround sound, “The Big Show” will be only the fourth in the U.S. to offer the state-of-the-art Barco DP4K-45L Laser projection system and Dolby Atmos sound technology. And while that may read like Latin to you (and me), film buffs say that simply means “the best.”
2. When you enter the Westminster lobby, audiences will be greeted by one of the most immortal sights in cinema history: A robotic version of the saintly Maria, whose likeness in “Metropolis” is manipulated by the oppressive business magnates to crush the spirits of any rebellious workers. Audiences who then continue on to “The Big Show” will walk through a gigantic replica of the Moloch Machine, where workers are fed as sacrifices in “Metropolis.”
3. The Creative Manager of the Westminster Alamo will be a familiar face to local theatre audiences. Austin Terrell, most recently of The Catamounts’ United Flight 232 and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, promises programming that will include new releases, foreign films, independent films, arthouse films and special events. He described his jam as either a “National Treasure” movie party with puzzles or making an event out of the new David Bowie biopic “Stardust.”
4. The Westminster menu has adopted a Tex-Mex flavor, with new menu items including Beer-Bacoa Queso, Lobster Fundido, Chicken Tinga Grilled Burritos and more, as well as vegan options. The chef is Rick Schulenberg.
5. The Art Deco concept bar is called Pandora’s Box, a salute to Louise Brooks and other actresses of the silent era. The bar will be run by Brittney Metheny and an all-female team. Brooks starred in an erotic 1928 silent-film classic called “Pandora’s Box” that could be considered a precursor to “The Handmaid’s Tale” when it comes to women’s empowerment. Brooks played Lulu, a woman who is killed in the embrace of Jack the Ripper as punishment for her wicked sexual freedom. “I saw ‘Pandora’s Box’ for the first time at the Denver Silent Film Festival six or so years ago,” said Alamo’s Steve Bessette, who picked the name. “The movie, and Louise Brooks’ tour-de-force performance, completely destroyed me. It’s been my favorite silent film ever since. We thought a bar concept that was a tribute to early screen heroines with an air of mystery and intrigue would be really unique.” Local theatregoers who attended Denver playwright Melissa Lucero McCarl’s world-premiere play Lost Creatures, which featured both Brooks and the fictional Lulu as characters, should be intrigued to check out the aesthetic.
[Side notes: Pandora’s Box features 32 taps, “nearly all” serving beer from Colorado breweries. The Rack AeriAle dispensing system allows for beer to be aged on site and poured from wood barrels. Pandora’s Box will have a large outdoor patio but unlike Barfly at Sloan’s Lake, there will not be a live performance space for comics and singers at the Westminster location.]
Alamo Drafthouse Westminster: At a glance
- 8905 Westminster Blvd.
- Parking: New 328-spot lot as well as street parking
- Nine theatres covering 43,960 square feet
- 120 employees (350 in Colorado total)
- The General Manager is Patrick Russell
- Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight; weekends 11 a.m. to midnight
- Contact: 303-731-3330 or drafthouse.com/
John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.