Twenty years ago today, the first Alamo Drafthouse theater opened up on Colorado Street in downtown Austin. It started as a second-run movie house, playing specialty programming and movies that had finished their original runs.
In the two decades since, the theater chain has grown to multiple cities in Texas and in other states across America. One of the first theaters to serve food and alcohol during movies, the chain proved to be a hit.
One of the biggest things the Drafthouse is known for, and one of the things that founder and CEO Tim League keeps harping on, is the theater's strict no talking and texting rule.
In an oral history of the theater from the Austin Chronicle, League explains the PSAs are almost as old as the theater itself:
The second month in operation, we had one of those midnight shows that was successful, sold out, for ‘Blue Velvet.’ And we had a cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon special. And sold a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and … it became mayhem. People were yelling and shouting and telling jokes … It made me sick. So that next week, I bought a copy of Final Cut 1.0, learned how to use it, and then started cutting the ‘Don’t Talk’ PSAs.
In the years since, the “Don’t Talk or Text” PSAs have become entrenched in Austin lore. League has enlisted many movie stars, celebrities and politicians to help spread his Gospel of silence in the theater.
In celebration of Drafthouse’s birthday, here are 20 of our favorite times the folks on the screen at the theater kindly told us to shut up.
There’s The Voicemail Heard ‘Round Austin:
And here’s the “Star Wars” riff on the original voicemail:
This PSA that shows just how brutal texting in the theater actually is:
Kevin Bacon’s corrupt cop from “Cop Car” prosecuted “crimes against cinema” to make sure theater-goers didn’t abuse their privilege:
Everyone knows this one featuring “Friday Night Lights” head coach Eric Taylor, feat. Explosions in the Sky:
“Mad Max” series director George Miller and series star Hugh Keays-Byrne reunited to let viewers know if you text or talk in a theater, it will cause the future downfall of humanity:
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy interrupted their “Before” trilogy banter to tell you to “get the f*** out of this place or just turn off the phone”:
Slappy from the Jack Black-led “Goosebumps” movie threatens viewers with slaps if they don’t respect the theater:
Mark Hamill combines all of his pop culture roles into one PSA to let you know he’ll unleash hell if you text:
Melissa McCarthy wants you to know that movie theaters are holy temples:
A pre-Oscar-winning Jonah Hill and a fresher-faced-than-usual Michael Cera want you to “shut the f*** up” during “Superbad,” and all other movies:
Amy Schumer used her PSA to make women feel beautiful, before unleashing a torrent of profanity on texters and talkers:
Lewis Black did what only Lewis Black can do and channeled his anger into a “don’t talk” PSA:
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson did a fake-out for their PSA:
And sometimes, these commercials don’t need famous people to get their points across. Take Drafthouse patron Peggy, for instance, who thinks people who talk during movies need to be “thrown out int the alley”:
Anybody who’s seen “Reservoir Dogs” doesn’t need an explanation on the fate that will befall texting and talking:
They even got a talking teddy bear to make an announcement:
“Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn made the point that texting and talking is something you do at home, and not in a movie theater. Like sex.
Texas politicians have even gotten in on the fun. Here’s one from our current governor Greg Abbott:
And, finally, my personal favorite, from former governor Ann Richards:
Happy 20th birthday, Drafthouse.View full experience