There’s nothing quite like escaping the world into a darkened room for a few hours and completely immersing yourself in someone else’s story. At its best, moviegoing fills us with wonder, makes us think, or moves us to tears, and it’s an experience that’s tough to replicate at home.
It’s this wow-factor that Andrew Lofaro, a 14-year veteran of the cinema industry, says keeps him excited about working in the fast-paced, ever-changing environment of movie theater management.
“Film is a powerful medium,” Lofaro says. “It brings a diverse group of people together for a common experience. As my career has developed, my love of the industry has grown.”
The New York City native moved with his family from Chicago to Cary three years ago, and he is currently the general manager at the upcoming Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh, an Austin-based cinema chain that bills itself as “dinner, drinks, movies and events, all under one roof.”
As GM, Lofaro will be the link between ticket sellers and greeters, the kitchen/bar staff and servers, technical staff and ushers and thousands of expected guests.
“I aim to fulfill our mission of ensuring every guest has an awesome experience and is excited to come back,” Lofaro says.
We asked Lofaro to share with us what will set the Alamo Drafthouse apart from other local cinemas when it opens in Raleigh next month.
How will the Alamo’s film programming differ from the programming already available at Raleigh’s multi-screen cinemas?
In addition to first-run and blockbuster titles, our speciality programming will include interactive movie parties, live events, retrospective screenings and independent cinema.
Alamo’s programming strives to create a much more engaged experience. We will create special food and drink menus for certain movies and always offer unique movie-inspired items, such as “True Grit,” an R-rated cocktail featuring Rittenhouse Rye, Ramazzotti, Orange & Angostura Bitters.
What does it take for Alamo to bring independent/experimental/limited release films to smaller film markets like Raleigh?
We have to be up to date on trends in this arena and build relationships with independent distributors and film archives. Our goal is to bring challenging and relevant new works to the Raleigh community.
How are you able to screen films without ads at Alamo?
One of Alamo’s key positions is that we are a movie theater for movie fans, created by movie fans. We believe that you shouldn’t have to watch advertisements after you’ve already paid to see the movie, so we’re vigilant about never letting ads hit our screens. We’ve even turned down PSAs for great causes because we don’t want anything to disrupt their experience of the show. Instead of ads, we create custom pre-shows with content themed to most of the features we program.
Tell us about Alamo’s Signature Series and special events like Kids Camp, Quote-Alongs and Drafthouse Recommends.
Alamo has curated more than a dozen Signature Series to appeal to a wide array of audiences. Everything from Afternoon Tea—period films served with tea and treats, to Weird Wednesdays—movies too outrageous for primetime. Kids Camp is an affordable way for families to watch great films together during most holiday breaks and 100 percent of the ticket sales are donated to local nonprofits working to make our community a better place. Our Movie Party series is for everyone who’s ever wanted to enter the world of their favorite movies while they’re watching them. You can quote-along with your favorite lines or sing-along with your favorite songs. Throughout the year, we’ll also spotlight groundbreaking, innovative and provocative movies that are worth your time by placing our Drafthouse Recommends stamp of approval on them.
Is programming the same across all of the Alamo markets or do you switch it up in the different locations? If so, how do you decide what to screen where?
There are national programming packages sent to all Alamo locations and it’s each market’s job to determine what is the best fit for their audiences. In addition to this national packet, our Creative Managers will curate and select titles that have ties to the local film community—both filmmakers and audiences.
Tell us about the video rental shop. What kinds of movies will be available to rent? Who do you think will rent them?
Video Vortex will be our themed lobby, bar and video rental store. The inspiration for the name comes from a long-running Alamo Drafthouse programming series that celebrates straight-to-video movies from the 1980s through the early 2000s. With more than 30,000 titles (and growing), the Video Vortex rental collection will be one of the largest video archives on the planet, and serve as the backbone for Raleigh’s newest video store. The collection is not just VHS tapes, but DVDs and Blu-rays with a wide array and diverse set of titles—blockbusters, 1930s and 40s films, foreign titles, rare releases and much more. If someone chooses a VHS tape, we will provide a VCR and cables to connect to their TV. With the wide range of options available, we hope that everyone will rent a movie from us!
Is there anything else about Alamo’s programming you’d like to share with our readers that we haven’t asked you about?
It’s important that our programming reflects the perspectives and interests of our community. Everyone who walks in our door should see themselves represented in our lineup of films. We hope to work with a variety of community organizations to collaborate on event and screening ideas.