During the first three quarters of 2020, Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill (SMG) plans to open five new locations following an eventful 2019.
Studio Movie Grill declares bankruptcy
DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF) – Studio Movie Grill, based in Dallas, filed for bankruptcy Friday. A dine-in theater chain says its business is on the verge of going bankrupt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Studio Movie Grill president Brian Schultz says the restaurant plans to continue operations while it undergoes restructuring under the supervision of a U.S. bankruptcy court. As a result of the pandemic, Studio Movie Grill temporarily closed all of its locations in the first quarter of this year. In total, about a third of the company’s 33 theaters remain closed.
AMC Entertainment Holdings, the country’s largest movie theater chain, has said it will likely run out of cash by the end of the year, or early 2021.
SMG, the leader of the dine-in cinema industry-and the largest chain exclusively featuring dine-in cinemas in North America-received an investment of $100 million from the international investment management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners in summer of last year. SMG founder and CEO Brian Schultz said at the time that the investment would allow SMG to “leverage our powerful community-centric business model to drive growth.”
The company started its expansion in 2019 with the opening of theaters in Charlotte, NC, and Glendale, CA. We announced today that SMG will open new locations across the country, including Fort Worth, Texas (SMG Chisholm Trail, opening in Q2), Atlanta, GA (SMG Northpoint, opening in Q2), Sacramento, CA (SMG Citrus Heights, opening this summer); Philadelphia, PA (SMG Willow Grove, opening this summer); and Richmond, TX (SMG Aliana, opening in Q4). SMG already operates in all of these markets.
The COO for SMG, Ted Croft, declared in a statement, “We are very excited to confirm SMG’s continued expansion in 2020. We will now operate over 400 screens nationwide after adding 62 screens to our existing 353 screens. As a result of this expansion, SMG and our guests will have access to more screens and seats, and it will allow us to expand our outreach into the communities we serve.”
There will also be an outdoor movie viewing area. Of these five theaters, the SMG Aliana near Houston will be of note, according to SMG’s official press release, as it will “be a prototype for SMG and will offer 12 screens and 1,160 luxury recliners.” All five theaters will have luxury recliners and, of course, SMG’s famous dine-in menu.
According to Schultz, in an exclusive interview with Boxoffice Pro on the occasion of receiving CineShow’s 2019 Visionary Award: “We’re not small enough to be called independents, but not small enough to be majors either.” That led us to decide to go big. There are a lot of cities where our concept will be able to be implemented, as well as in cities in which we already have a presence.”
The expansion of SMG coincides with a push to retain customers. In 2018, the chain launched a loyalty program called SMG Access. The loyalty program was added a subscription tier in early 2019 – the SMG Access Subscription — which is currently an invitation-only program.
The VP of development of SMG, Andrew Bucki, says SMG is focused on expansion. SMG is constantly re-inventing our brand with a focus on facility design, technology, and a robust menu. We continue to be the fastest-growing segment in our industry.”