Alamo Drafthouse Cinema said CEO Shelli Taylor is retiring in August and named president Michael Kustermann as its new chief executive.
The fast-growing dine-in chain, that’s been hugely successful luring post-pandemic moviegoers back to theaters, said its board of directors, including Taylor and executive chairman Tim League, selected Kustermann as Taylor steps down, effective August 11. She will remain on the board.
“I am humbled to become Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s next CEO,” said Kustermann, who was promoted to president in April from chief experience officer overseeing the strategy, marketing & creative, product & digital, and development teams and initiatives that included Alamo Season Pass, Rolling RoadShow, and a new Silent Service ordering platform. “I am confident that as this industry continues to build back, we will keep leading the way, just as we have proven we can with over 18 months of solid double digit growth vs the industry’s recovery. Movies exist to make an impact in our lives and theaters deliver that.”
Taylor, a former Starbucks executive and president of United Planet Fitness Partners, joined Alamo as CEO in the spring of 2020 as League stepped into a newly created role of executive chairman, leading the board and creative initiatives for Alamo Drafthouse, sister company Mondo, and the Austin-based Fantastic Fest. Covid had just started to take hold and it was a brutal time for exhibition as theaters were shuttered. In March of 2021, the chain filed for a structured Chapter 11 with a deal to sell itself to an investor group including Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment and League. It emerged from bankruptcy three months later. It’s been expanding steadily ever since, adding locations in lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Chicago,,Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Most of the 40+ locations are themed — from Kung Fu to aviation – and have full bars. It programs a mix of wide release, arthouse and curated films.
“I’m excited for Michael to lead our next phase of growth and evolution. He and I have worked closely over the past two years and I know he will continue to drive our core values and build upon our vision to be the best damn cinema that ever was or will be,” said League, who founded the Austin-based chain in 1997. He also thanked Taylor, “Who came into Alamo at a time when our company and industry were fighting for our very existence. She guided the company through those dark days, all the way to our current industry-topping performance and renewed expansion.”
“I am deeply grateful for the support and trust extended to me by Tim. His guidance and belief in my abilities have been invaluable throughout our journey together,” Taylor said. “As I pass the torch to Michael, I do so with immense pride and confidence.”