Tell the boss you’re not feeling so well. The state’s most famous indie movie theater, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is kicking off its third national Rolling Roadshow Tour —a series of gratis 35mm screenings of famous movies in the locations where they were filmed—and now’s the time to play that get- out-of-work-free card. The cinematic pilgrimage makes its first stop July 18 in San Elizario (about twenty miles southeast of El Paso) for a viewing of Fandango, the 1985 cult favorite that follows five college buddies on a post-graduation road trip.
But it’s not the flick itself that should have you ready to skip out of the office, even though it does star a baby-faced Kevin Costner (swoon) in his first leading role. No, this is about the experience. The screening will take place under the stars in the very same plaza featured in Fandango’s final scenes, next to the gazebo where Sam Robards’s and Suzy Amis’s characters famously got hitched. It’s the kind of sensory overload that the Roadshow has become known for: In past years, brave viewers have sprawled out on the shores of Martha’s Vineyard, mere yards from the dark waters, to watch Jaws; Devils Tower has been the backdrop (and a mashed-potato-sculpture contest the featured event) for a viewing of Close Encounters of the Third Kind ; and a no-longer-as-baby-faced Kevin Costner has played with his band before a Field of Dreams screening in Dyersville, Iowa. A drive to San Elizario should be more than worth the small fortune in gas.
The creative geniuses behind this mad- cap activity are Tim and Karrie League, whose Alamo Drafthouse Cinema first revolutionized the Capital City ten years ago with its dinner-and-a-movie concept. The Rice University grads returned to Texas in 1996 after their million-dollar idea to serve dinner and drinks at a Bakersfield, California, theater that Tim operated failed to get off the ground (the then-23-year-old was denied a liquor license). Now they run three high-traffic venues in Austin, and Tim oversees a team devoted solely to coming up with more off-the-wall ideas that will keep cinephiles entertained. (In 2004 the Leagues sold the franchise rights; today the brand is expanding into Houston, San Antonio, and elsewhere.) The Alamo has earned a zealous following with its inventive programming (sing-alongs, live parodies of bad movies, theme nights) and over-the-top tie-ins (a sixty-foot-tall, fire-breathing Robosaurus will be brought to the downtown location for this month’s opening of Transformers, for example).
Certainly there’ll be no shortage of tie-ins when it comes to the Roadshow: Its first stop will include no less than an Austin-to-San-Elizario scavenger hunt (teams will have to go skydiving en route and find a buried bottle of Dom Pérignon in Big Bend) and even a wedding for one or more lucky volunteer couples (Chuck Bush, who played Fandango’s Dorman, will preside over the totally legit ceremonies). Then the forty-foot inflatable screen will be packed up, and the eleven-city tour will head out of state, ending back in Texas—in Texarkana for Smokey and the Bandit on August 15—for one last hurrah. Better start saving up your sick days now. (Read an interview with Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League.) Jul 18. Socorro Rd & San Elizario Rd, rollingroadshow.com