The Northwest Austin theater vacated this summer by Alamo Drafthouse won’t sit empty much longer.
The seven-screen cineplex located in the Lake Creek Festival shopping center, at 13729 Research Blvd., is set to reopen under new management next month, showing second-run movies at discount prices.
Newly formed Southwest Theaters will operate the theater, which is expected to be the first of many discount cinemas in Texas and perhaps other states, as well, founder Andrew Golin said.
Prices will be $2 for matinees and $3 for evening showings, seven days a week. Movies should begin screening at the theater about three to six weeks after they’re released, according to Golin.
Another major difference: While Alamo Drafthouse offered in-theater food and drink service, the new theater will only feature typical movie concessions such as candy, popcorn and sodas.
"We’ve had our eyes on Austin for a while now," Golin said. "There’s a void in the market there. We see a lot of potential."
Round Rock and San Marcos both have discount cinemas, Golin said, but there isn’t one in Austin. The theaters appeal primarily to families on a budget, he said.
"Sometimes there’s a stigma associated with second-run theaters," Golin said, "but we’re going to run them just like first-run theaters – a first-class experience."
Before opening day, Golin said $1 million in upgrades to the building are planned, including new projection equipment, seating, paint and flooring.
Southwest Theaters has signed a 10-year lease on the 29,000-square-foot spot, according to Bryan Dabbs with Stream Realty, the company that handles leasing for the Lake Creek Festival shopping center.
Dabbs said the cinema should help breathe new life into the center. Several other tenants have signed on recently, he said, while a few existing shops and restaurants have extended their leases.
"We’re thrilled to have the theater on board," Dabbs said. "They’ll do well, I think."
Alamo Drafthouse was one of several businesses in Northwest Austin that relocated to the recently opened Lakeline Market shopping center, at Lakeline Boulevard and U.S. 183, creating several sizable vacancies in the area earlier this year.
"That trade area has been hit pretty hard by vacancies," he said. "Thankfully, people are making money in our shopping center. We’re excited to be where we are."
Lake Creek Festival still has one large storefront to fill – a spot Stein Mart abandoned when it moved to Lakeline Market. Dabbs said Spirit Halloween has signed a short-term lease and talks are under way with potential tenants interested in the spot after the costume shop departs in November.