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Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.

By Emily Rella Edited by Melissa Malamut

Key Takeaways

  • Sony Pictures Entertainment announced that it has purchased Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas on Wednesday.
  • Current Alamo Drafthouse CEO Michael Kustermann will remain in his position, and no theaters are set to close.
  • Deadline estimates that the acquisition cost Sony around $200 million.

After rumors swirled in March that cult-favorite theater chain Alamo Drafthouse was looking for a prospective buyer, a Hollywood studio has reportedly sealed the deal in a blockbuster acquisition.

Sony Pictures Entertainment announced on Wednesday that it had acquired the dine-in theater chain in what's estimated to be a $200 million deal.

As part of the new deal, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will live under Sony Pictures Experiences division. Current Alamo Drafthouse CEO Michael Kustermann will remain in his position and will also become the head of Sony Pictures Experiences. He will report to the President and COO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Ravi Ahuja.

Related: A Cult-Favorite Theater Chain Is Reportedly Looking For a Buyer After Emerging From Bankruptcy

Alamo currently operates 35 cinemas across 25 different metro areas. None are set to shutter amid the merger, the company said. The company's headquarters will also remain in Austin, Texas.

The movie theater chain is characteristically known for being one of the first chains to offer moviegoers an in-theater dining experience that includes local draft beers on tap and a curated food menu.

"We are excited to make history with Sony Pictures Entertainment and have found the right home and partner for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema," Kustermann said in a company release. "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 is the No. 7 largest movie chain in North America and originally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2021 amid the pandemic. The company was sold just months later in June to Altamont Capital Partners and emerged from bankruptcy.

Alamo Drafthouse brought in $134 million at the box office in 2023, a 30% increase from the same time the year prior.

The purchase of Alamo isn't Sony Pictures Entertainment's first move in the movie theater industry.

In 1989, Sony purchased the iconic Lowes Theater chain before changing the name to Sony Theaters in 1994. In 1996, the name reverted back to Lowes.

The next year, Lowes merged with Cineplex Odeon Corporation, which merged with Sony and Universal to be called Loews Cineplex Entertainment.

Loews Cineplex Entertainment was acquired by Onex Corporation and Oaktree Capital Management in 2002 and sold in 2004. Eventually, the company was acquired in 2005 to merge with AMC Theaters, which is the name that the joint company still goes by today.

Related: Report: Amazon Eyeing Purchase of AMC Theaters

"Alamo Drafthouse has always held the craft of filmmaking and the theatrical experience in high esteem, which are fundamental shared values between our companies. I'm jazzed that our company is doing this," said Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group about Wednesday's announcement.

Sony maintained that it would continue to allow films and content from all distributors and studios in its theaters, not just its own.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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