Tim League Talks Bringing Drafthouse Madness to the Masses Through Distribution Arm

By  · Published on September 9th, 2010

Tim League is a busy man. Every morning he wakes up at 4am, eats 9 dozen raw eggs, boxes a kangaroo and then delivers a sickening amount of entertainment to the Austinites who are fortunate enough (or in the case of Reject Brian Salisbury, moved there specifically) to have the Alamo Drafthouse in their backyard.

The man is also back as CEO of the company with an eye to expanding the amount of theaters under their belt, and he’s just announced today the launching of Drafthouse Films ‐ a new distribution arm that has already picked up Four Lions as its first film to hurl unto the masses.

I spoke with League briefly on his way out to Toronto. One thing is for sure ‐ the drive and fandom of the Drafthouse is going to be filtered directly into what films they pick up. It’s time to get excited, and League is about to get even busier.

In the professional interview style, my first question is “Why?”

[Laughs] I don’t know. I was bored.

Because you needed more on your plate.

[Laughs] Yeah, I needed something else to do two weeks before Fantastic Fest.


You know, it’s something that we’ve thought about on several occasions. Since the company merged back together almost four months ago, this was one of the things that came into the discussion quickly. Now that the brand is back together, we’re marching and trying to expand to get more theaters ‐ it seemed like a natural progression to move into this arena. So, there ya go.

What movies will you be focusing on? What’s the philosophy behind what you’ll pick up?

The way I’m personally thinking about it is that it’s an expansion of what we do at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. When we’re programming the Alamo theaters in Austin, we tend to, at least in the independent arena, we tend to think of things we’re passionate about. Things we can promote. Things that we feel there’s an audience out there for. That can go into a lot of arenas.

Four Lions was one of those films that I really responded to, I really liked it. I saw it at Sundance, and I watched it again at SXSW, and I liked it even more the second time around. The fact that when we started thinking about distribution opportunities this thing was still out there, it hadn’t found a home ‐ it seemed like an obvious idea for our first target.

Well, I loved it, and I was surprised it didn’t find distribution, but it also doesn’t have any girls taking an internal flame thrower to a pile of human meat chunks.

Oh, we’re gonna cut that in.

[Laughs] Do you see trying to take some of those films and finding a home for them?

Yeah. Obviously my mind is focused on Fantastic Fest. There are films that come about at Fantastic Fest that have huge audience response that never find home either, so I think this is an interesting parallel business considering what we do and the types of films that we actively seek out throughout the year. It’s definitely a possibility down the road that Drafthouse Films will pick up something that’s in that Fantastic Fest arena.

How will Drafthouse Films be different?

Well, for one, we’re small. We’re not gonna have a target roster that we must release during the year. We’re only going to go after films that we’re passionate about. Things like Four Lions. I think there are other companies that follow in that model, but I think it will be interesting as the brand grows ‐ if we really do expand the theater into New York and LA ‐ that creates an interesting distribution channel, to have a media outlet and like-minded venues. There’s a certain type of audience we like to nurture because we’re a member of that audience, too. Hopefully with the right films released, they’ll know to expect either a mark of quality or just bat shit craziness.

Gear up for bat shit craziness, coming to a theater near you.

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.