The Alamo Drafthouse Becomes the Coolest Movie Theater in the Galaxy

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The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Omaha, Nebraska is a movie theater experience like no other. With 16-foot-tall LED-lit lightsabers on the exterior, a space station-inspired concession and a 10-foot-diameter Death Star space station hanging overhead, this Star Wars-themed lobby pushes boundaries on the way theaters engage with their audiences.

Nominating Company: Dimensional Innovations, Overland Park, Kansas
Venue: Alamo Drafthouse – Omaha, La Vista, Nebraska
Project: The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Category: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation

BACKGROUND
”The idea behind the lobby is that we wanted to construct and install a lobby theme that would make us unique in our Omaha market as well as in the Midwest. We also wanted a theme that was built around an iconic film and to completely own that theme to immerse our guests in the experience. That is when Star Wars came into the picture. And it just so happened that we timed it out just right with the announcement of the huge plans for Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” said the Alamo Drafthouse team.

Dimensional Innovations (DI) has partnered with other Alamo Drafthouse franchises in the past whose teams referred us to the architect and owner of the Omaha location. From start to finish, this project took about a year to complete and transformed their theater lobby into a real-life, interactive Star Wars scene.

CHALLENGES
One of the most difficult tasks during the design was honoring the Star Wars franchise by creating accurate replications. Determining how to create a 10-foot-diameter Death Star that looked true to the original movie was no simple task, not to mention it also had to be light enough to hang 1 2 feet above the ground.

Dl also needed to create a focal point for the lobby where guests could interact with the technology. The Emperor’s Throne needed to be a photo opportunity, while also giving guests a way to interact with the Death Star. The firing of the Death Star came with its own complications. The laser had to have the ability to be seen in daylight and also at night while still looking realistic.

Lastly, we needed to find a solution that allowed the Drafthouse staff to have access inside the Death Star for maintenance reasons.

The Alamo Drafthouse Becomes the Coolest Movie Theater in the GalaxySOLUTIONS
A crucial solution was building the Death Star light enough to hang above the lobby. Fiberglass was ideal due to its weight, durability and customization capabilities. Weighing 800 pounds, the Star is held by a hoist capable of holding 6,000 pounds, making it a structurally sound installation.

To make the Death Star look realistic, we incorporated custom graphics, a data player for sound, custom LED lighting for the laser and 50,000-hour light bulbs to shine through the globe. We also incorporated a light flickering device to intensify the experience when the Death Star is activated. All those additions were synced and wired back to the Emperor’s throne allowing visitors the opportunity to control the Death Star with the push of a button.

For maintenance, we designed the star to split into two and motorized the bottom half to drop down, granting easy access to the inside.

RESULTS
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opened with a bang, getting coverage in “Wired Magazine,” “Entertainment Weekly” and “The Telegraph,” while surpassing initial attendance expectations. The theater continues to draw Star Wars fans regionally and nationally, and keeps local movie-goers coming back for the entertainment value. They wanted an amazing theater lobby that would look like it came straight out of the original Star Wars trilogy, and so we created the coolest movie theater lobby in all the galaxy.

This space quickly became one of the most talked about theaters when the Star Wars Trilogy came out. Before the installation process even began, a picture of the Death Star being transferred to Omaha from our shop went viral on Twitter, creating a lot of buzz about the upcoming theater.

The attention to detail in this project made the Alamo Drafthouse Omaha theater lobby a one-of-a-kind space for years to come.

PROJECT PARTNERS
National Commercial Builders: General Contractor
ELEVATION architects: architect

 

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