Why would anyone drive 90 minutes to go see a movie?
I pondered that question on the drive to Kalamazoo for my first much-anticipated experience at an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. After all, I could have seen "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" at any number of theaters closer to my home.
But I wanted to see if Alamo could live up to the hype of being a movie theater for movie lovers -- in particular its famous no-talking-and-no-texting policy -- and deliver better food than your average multiplex.
In Kalamazoo, Alamo Drafthouse took over a theater and renovated it to fit its unique business model. There's a bar and lounge as you enter. Moviegoers can enjoy a Michigan craft beer or cocktail either before their screening or after the show. Your movie ticket is for an assigned seat and ticketholders are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes before showtime to enjoy a pre-movie show tailored to the film you're about to watch.
The entire feel of Alamo Drafthouse runs counter to the trends of video streaming and binge watching -- when people hunker down with Netflix or Hulu Plus and devour hours of TV and movies in one sitting.
Alamo appeals to the idea that going out to a movie is a desirable experience -- one to linger over and share with others.
It reminded me very much of the now-defunct Hollywood Bar & Filmworks in Indianapolis, where moviegoers could enjoy a drink before the show, order food and enjoy it at a table in the theater.
For great food and drink and a great movie-watching experience, I might be willing to drive 90 minutes, but I hope I won't have to. Kalamazoo is Alamo Drafthouse's first location in the Midwest, but how about a second one in -- say -- South Bend?