Here are some accessible and unique theater alternatives to the big chains, like Alamo Drafthouse, Cinemark, or AMC!

 

With movies like Jordan Peele’s “Nope”, Dean Fleischer-Camp’s “Marcel The Shell”, and the iconic “Jurassic World” finale, I’ve probably visited the cinema more times than I can count this summer. While big chains like The Alamo or AMC are great, there is something comforting about discovering an independent movie theater. One that offers more personality than those places, more local events, and might even be a little cheaper. When looking into cinema alternatives in Austin I found a plethora of interesting and unique places I wanted to share. I compared their price point to that of some of our more common cinemas and did my research on what they have to offer in terms of accessibility. For reference, regular ticket prices from AMC, Cinemark, and Alamo Drafthouse average at around $12, though the Alamo can sometimes feature tickets for as much as $16. So, here’s my definitive list of movie theater alternatives to the big chains that you should check out in Austin, and what sets them apart! 

 

1. Violet Crown Cinema | Average Ticket Price $15

We are starting off strong with a locally owned theater. Violet Crown specializes in foreign, documentary, and indie films. You can reserve your seating online, and their website makes it known they have a full-service bar and cafe. While their price-point is a little higher, you are paying for the overall experience. Violet Crown Cinema shows films that are otherwise difficult to find in a theater setting. Their screening rooms offer a more intimate experience, and the images on their site show big plush reclining seats, with cleanliness only local cinemas can provide. Despite being locally owned they have 3 locations across 3 states and are currently working on opening one in Dallas.

Accessibility: Offers Assisted Listening & Captioning Devices and has a wheelchair-accessible elevator, parking lot, seating, restroom, and entrance. 

 

2. Southwest Theaters Lake Creek 7 | Average Ticket Price $10.50

Lake Creek 7 is a 7-screen “second-run” theater that highly promotes their low ticket prices, which include “bargain matinees” at $8 for adults ($6.50 for child and senior tickets). Being a “second-run” theater means you can catch movies at Lake Creek 7 that stopped running in mainstream cinemas months ago. While the biggest attraction to this theater is the price, there’s also an extra novelty aspect that I find endearing. Southwest Theaters Lake Creek 7 is cornering the food delivery market. That’s right, you can DoorDash any of their meals and snacks from the theater straight to your house. This includes, but is not limited to, popcorn (“party-sized” bags of it), jumbo pickles, nachos, whole pizzas, candies, pretzels, and so much more. 

Accessibility: Offers Assisted Listening & Captioning Devices and has a wheelchair-accessible entrance, parking lot, restrooms, and seating (there is no second floor and no elevator). 

 

3. Austin Film Society (AFC) Cinema | Average Ticket Price $13.50

This women-owned local theater is especially impressive. AFS is a 2-screen venue, with a full bar and concessions. Like Violet Crown Cinema, AFS specializes in indie and foreign films. A quick look at their showings will tell you most, if not all, of the movies they’re screening, are not being played in mainstream cinemas. Since the amount of screens they do have is so limited, the movies they show change constantly, as most films are only in rotation for a few days at a time. Being part of the Film Society this theater, similar to Alamo Drafthouse, often hosts exclusive screenings with panels of directors or people who worked on the film. The best part of AFS is the “community programs” they offer. Austin Film Society Cinema really wants to empower our local talent and offers plenty of in-person and online classes on how to use specific cameras and different editing software for as little as $80 for a two day class. They offer local grants, various certifications, and different programs, including their 3-month internship program. Which is followed by on-the-job shadowing of local professionals in your desired field. A ticket to one of their shows, of course, goes to funding these things. 

Accessibility: Offers Assisted Listening & Captioning Devices and has a wheelchair-accessible entrance and parking lot (no second floor). 

 

4. Galaxy Theatres Austin | Average Ticket Price $14.50

Galaxy Theatres has fifteen locations spread across 5 states. They play the same films mainstream cinemas do, but offer more discounts and an elevated experience at every turn. They have discounts for senior citizens, 65 and older, as well as college students, who will pay $11.50 and $11 respectively. Galaxy Theatres also offers discounted matinee tickets, at $12.25 for adults, $11.50 for senior citizens, and $10.50 for college students. Galaxy Theatres prides themselves on their “elevated snacks” (I’m not sure that this means, but it must be good!) and motion seats, cornering themselves as a true alternative to bigger theaters like AMC. 

Accessibility: Offers Assisted Listening & Captioning Devices and has a wheelchair-accessible parking lot, seating, restroom, and entrance. 

 

5. IPIC Theaters | Average Ticket Price $15

This theater is marketed as an “up-scale” chain that offers customers a “premium” viewing experience. IPIC is a great alternative to Alamo Drafthouse and even offers their own In Theater Dining experience, food items vary from regular snacks like popcorn all the way to whole meals like Angus Burgers and Chicken Skewers. For $15 a ticket you can enjoy their plush “leather-covered recliner” chairs which are built in two-seat sections. Perhaps their biggest selling point is their location. IPIC is located in the heart of the Domain, making it extremely convenient for some light shopping, or a nice meal before heading to the theaters. IPIC has 13 locations across 8 states. 

Accessibility: Offers Assisted Listening & Captioning Devices and has a wheelchair-accessible parking lot, seating, restroom, and entrance. 

 

6. Flix Brewhouse Round Rock | Average Ticket Price $11.25

According to their own description, Flix Brewhouse offers 6 “stadium-seating dining areas”. Which seems to mean six different theaters with a table running in front of each available row, so you can enjoy food while watching the film. Flix Brewhouse proudly emphasizes their impressive array of microbrews available for consumption. They are a small chain with nine locations spread across six states, including multiple locations in Texas. While their average ticket price is $11.25, they do offer $5.25 tickets all day Wednesday! 

Assessiblilty: Offers Assisted Listening & Captioning Devices and has a wheelchair-accessible parking lot, seating, elevator, restroom, and entrance. 

 

Lastly, while this is not an official contender, I just wanted to mention the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In Cinema in Round Rock. Though they are not currently having public viewings, you can rent out their space for private showings. And who doesn’t love a Drive-In? 

 

That is my compilation of some really cool alternatives to mainstream theaters in Austin. There’s something for everyone, whether that be a cheaper price point, a more elevated experience, or a great introduction into the local film scene. I hope you found your perfect theater and will be visiting soon! What are you excited to watch? 

Author

  • Camila Dejesus has been writing since she was a child and enjoys all forms from creative writing down to narrative analysis. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor's in Television and Radio Production and is working full-time at Latinitas Magazine. In her free time, she loves writing stories and doing creative projects such as water coloring or creating poem collections. However now, her greatest passion is trying to find new topics that will engage and inspire Latinx youth.