The Alamo Drafthouse movie theater franchise—Austin-born and world-famous—took a series of big blows during the pandemic. The innovative chain is known, at least locally, for its wide-ranging programming, themed events, and sometimes film-specific food and drink menus that went far beyond the standard movie concession fare when Tim and Karrie League started it up in a converted garage in downtown Austin.

That location is long gone, but it was an early sign that the Alamo would go the extra several miles in developing its theaters' built environments, making a lasting mark on the city's buildings old and new in addition to changing the idea of how a moviehouse looks and functions in fundamental and important ways.

When the pandemic hit the US in 2020, the chain adapted as nimbly as it could, following distancing, masking, and other public health protocols as they evolved. When many states and cities shut down most enterprises completely, it shifted to offering online screenings that took advantage of programmers' deep filmic knowledge and the chain's inventive thematic approaches to the cinematic experience. When some of the Alamo locations reopened in September 2020, it was at reduced capacity due to its implementation of distancing and other COVID-prevention measures.

But there's only so much a business founded on live, collective experiences could do to sustain itself in the face of an ongoing pandemic—just ask the thousands of restaurants and bars that shuttered permanently in the past year. In March of this year, the chain announced it was filing for Chaper 11 bankruptcy and permanently closing three of its theaters—one in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as the downtown Austin Alamo Ritz and the Alamo Marketplace in New Braunfels.

Adding to the drama of the announcment was the contemporaneous, freestyle pontificating on the part of many nonexperts about the future of live events—which includes the kind of movie theater experience you can't get from streaming and at which the Alamo excels. But the end of the month would find Tim League interviewed in Variety magazine, making a convincing case that Alamo Drafthouse could, as the headline put it, "lead a box office renaissance."

A Thursday announcement on the Alamo Drafthouse website seems to indicate that the full-fledged return is upon us, laying out some dates when movie-goers can expect to return to more of its theaters, live and in person. Opening with Matthew McConaughey's recent turn on the 2021 Oscars telecast, in which he declared that "theaters are coming back," the statement goes on to get specific about location reopenings. They started yesterday (April 28) in Springfield, Missouri, and will be followed by reopenings in Brooklyn on May 7 and in at Austin's Mueller Alamo, as well as in Los Angeles, on May 28.

After that, the schedule gets a little vaguer, but indicates that at least 15 of the chains theaters will be opened back up this summer. That includes the Austin Village location in June as well as more than 30 theaters over the season nationwide.

The full schedule of anticipated reopenings as well as its COVID-related rules and other details are in the announcement on its website