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As Bullets Fly to Celebrate the Release of 'I Declare War,' Alamo Drafthouse's Tim League Looks to the Future

By Aaron Hillis | Indiewire August 31, 2013 at 9:26AM

There's a bullshit romanticization concerning childhood, as if it were a lovely period of wonderment and innocence before the world grinds us all down with heartbreak, crap jobs, health issues and any other number of disillusioning, grown-up realities. But looking over the painful, egg-sized, bright purple welts on my chest and legs—courtesy of rascally Texas youth armed with paintball guns and shouting "old-timer" epithets, I'm thinking that Sartre had it wrong: Hell is other kids.
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Tim League.
Tim League.

Immediately following the match, however, everyone settles in to watch the film on a giant inflatable screen -- a staple of the Alamo's "Rolling Roadshow" open air screenings -- but having seen the film already, I sneak away to sit down with League for an interview. Having just flown back into town that day after supervising the Yonkers theater launch, League finds out that Entertainment Weekly's two-page profile on him and his company's ambitious endeavors has hit newsstands, so he's in great spirits -- even if he's a little bummed that nobody shot him during the game, the madman.

"That totally surprised me, I thought we were going to get destroyed," League jokes, before reflecting on how it's used as a publicity stunt. "It's like a low-budget Hollywood junket. It's taking you out to a dude ranch for 'The Lone Ranger,' but on our kind of budget. We've been doing these outdoor screenings for over ten years and it's part of my DNA now, so whenever there's a movie it makes sense for, I'll do it." He's not too concerned with the price tag. "I don't know how it'll wash out," he adds. "We'll probably be fairly break-even when all the costs are considered, but it's not that expensive for us."

League has so many irons in the proverbial fire, I ask him about his expansion plans. "By the end of next year, we'll probably be at 25 locations," he says. "Then a few years later, if all goes according to plan, we'll be at 50 locations. If you have those, you can play 'We're the Millers' and '2 Guns' and make a lot of money."

That's not quite what he has in mind. "There are companies that do that, but I have a semi-lofty goal to leverage the infrastructure of a larger company to promote movies I love, and to build a younger cinephile audience who should know that foreign-language or black-and-white movies are awesome, that musicals can be fun. All of these things are going the way of opera and ballet, that's a crying shame for this particular art form."

Future Alamo locations have been announced in El Paso, Lubbock, New Braunfels, Kalamazoo and San Francisco, but League says his main goal now is to make sure he's not spread too thin. Over the next couple of years, he'd like to step back from some of his many ventures, and develop them into self-sustaining companies. We discuss next month's edition of Fantastic Fest, temporarily relocated far enough north that South Austin residents are sure to bug out, but how can anyone complain about a super-fun, incredibly communal festival that is rumored to have a guest appearance (and heavy-metal karaoke judging) by Metallica? But that's another story.

This article is related to: I Declare War, Alamo Drafthouse, Drafthouse Films, Tim League, Austin, Action, Reviews, Features, Drama, Distribution, Filmmaker Toolkit: Distribution






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