Alamo Drafthouse Moves Into Large-Scale Layoffs, Including Creative Director Mike Sampson

The layoffs may include up to half of the corporate staff. "This is a devastating step to take," a spokesperson said.
Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles
Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles
Zane Roessell

Alamo Drafthouse is converting furloughs to layoffs, a move that includes key staff, a company spokesman has confirmed. In a statement to IndieWire, an Alamo press representative wrote:

As we’ve looked at the road ahead, it’s become increasingly clear that many positions at Alamo Drafthouse would need to be eliminated, changed, or refocused. This is a devastating step to take. It would be impossible to quantify what these Alamo Drafthouse team members have collectively contributed, and we hope that once things have stabilized, we’ll be able to bring many of them back.

While the Alamo rep declined to comment on the number of layoffs, one source said there were more than 80 on the corporate side alone, not including personnel such as projectionists, event managers, or local theater managers.

On March 16, Alamo announced that it would furlough 80 percent of its corporate staff and virtually all theater staff members as it closed 40 theaters. Later that month, founders Tim and Kerrie League announced an emergency relief fund of two weeks’ pay, and health coverage through the end of April, for furloughed corporate-owned venue and headquarters staff.

Among the layoffs is Mike Sampson, the New York-based creative director for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. Sampson, a former journalist, began working at Alamo four years ago as senior marketing and promotions manager in New York, where Alamo now has locations in Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Like most of its competitors, Alamo has not reopened. (Its website features plans for safe reopening that includes stringent rules such as guests exiting theaters by rows after a movie ends.) The Texas-based circuit is located in 41 complexes in 10 states, a number that includes franchisees along with their core cinemas. The theaters’ amenities include in-theater eating and drinking, specialized programming to supplement studio wide releases, enhanced audience behavior control, which have established a brand value above many other larger companies.

Sampson’s job was tied directly to creating and honing Alamo’s programming bells and whistles, one of the major elements that created customer loyalty. Putting these at risk reflects the damage done by the pandemic.

Earlier today, the Sundance Institute revealed they are cutting 13 percent of its staff at its Utah, New York, and Los Angeles offices as well as making other personnel adjustments including number of work hours and seasonal adjustments.

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