Press

June 10 , 2005

Studio Movie Grill

Studio Movie Grill

June 10th, 2005 - For Brian Schultz, the show must go on -- to Arlington. The city will be the third location for the cinema-eatery concept he pioneered locally at Dallas' Granada Theater in the 1990s before opening his multiscreen Studio Movie Grill locations in Addison and Plano in 2000. Schultz announced nearly two years ago that he was looking for a third location in the western part of the Metroplex for his Studio Movie Grill model, which offers patrons a full grill menu and bar, oversized leather chairs, tables and first-run movies. In May, he signed a lease agreement with developers of the new Arlington Highlands lifestyle center and will build a 36,100-square-foot, 10-screen Studio Movie Grill as part of the $100 million, 75-acre development just east of The Parks at Arlington mall in the city's Interstate 20 corridor. The $7 million theater is slated to open in summer 2006 along with the first phase of the development's retail component. In late 2003, Schultz had planned a third Dallas-Fort Worth location as part of an overall expansion, even signing a letter of intent to lease a 40,000-square-foot facility in the western Metroplex, but that deal eventually fell apart. He said then that his goal was to have 10, 1,200-seat theaters open throughout the state by 2007. While he hasn't quite abandoned that objective, Schultz says his privately held company's growth will be incremental. "The Arlington Highlands theater is our first with brand-new construction, where what we'd done before is redevelop an existing building," Schultz said. "Arlington has a perfect demographic for us -- it's the perfect place to be." He also is seriously eyeing at least two other Texas cities, which he declined to identify. "I think we're being very selective, although we will concentrate on Texas," he said. Schultz has spent 10 years fine-tuning his version of the cinema-eatery concept, which began picking up steam in 1997 when he successfully badgered a film distributor into giving him a crack at a first-run movie -- "The Water Boy." Up until then, cinema-eateries were the province of second-run and specialty movies. After leaving the Granada in 1999 -- it has now become a live-music venue -- he developed theaters in Plano, then Addison. "For the past two years we've been focused on rolling this out, which is really kind of simple in that we do film, food and fun, and we run everything based on the customer experience," he said. "There are a lot of branches to this and, before we expand, we want to make sure we get it right." Studio Movie Grill's ticket prices are typically either the same as or slightly lower than traditional multiplex cinemas, but Schultz said he doesn't believe he competes for the same customer. Typical customer "Our typical customer doesn't go to movies more than a couple of times a year, but when they discover us they come every week or every other week," he said. "We're a different experience, and that's how we're able to be a niche in an upper-tier concept. Our customers get spoiled and don't want to go anywhere else." That "spoiling" Schultz refers to includes a menu with pizzas priced similarly to a Chili's or Humperdinks restaurant, $3 tubs of popcorn and $2 soft drinks with free refills, draft beer at $4 and a full bar with premium liquors. Although he declined to discuss ticket sales, Schultz previously said his current theaters each average about 300,000 patrons annually. Daniel Fuller, a broker with The Retail Connection, who is part of the leasing team for the development, said interest was shown by at least two other movie theater operators in building in the Arlington Highlands. However, he said, the leasing team already had some first-hand experience with Studio Movie Grill, having patronized the Addison location on several occasions. "From the very beginning we wanted an entertainment venue, and we chose Studio Movie Grill based on their record as operators," Fuller said. Jim Kozak, editor in chief of In Focus magazine, a trade publication for theater owners, said Studio Movie Grill is one of just 18 cinema-eateries around the nation that feature first-run movies. Nine of those are in Texas, he said, including Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas' five locations, and Movie Tavern locations in Fort Worth and Arlington.