Following an eventful 2019, Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill (SMG) has announced their plans to open five new locations during the first three quarters of 2020.
A pioneer in the dine-in cinema space—and the largest exclusively dine-in chain in North America, even before the addition of these five new locations—SMG entered summer of last year with $100 million in strategic growth investment from international investment management firm TowerBrook Capital Partners; 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.”
That growth started at the tail end of 2019 with the opening of theaters in Charlotte, NC and Glendale, California. Today’s announcement concerns new SMG locations in Fort Worth, TX (SMG Chisholm Trail, opening Q2); Atlanta, GA (SMG Northpoint, opening Q2); Sacramento, CA (SMG Citrus Heights, opening summer); Philadelphia, PA (SMG Willow Grove, opening summer); and Richmond, TX (SMG Aliana, opening Q4). All are markets in which SMG already has a presence.
Said COO Ted Croft in a statement, “We are extremely excited to confirm further expansion for SMG in 2020. New locations will add 62 screens to our existing 353 screens operating nationwide, bringing our screen count to over 400. Not only does this expansion offer SMG and our guests more screens and seats, it also allows us to grow our outreach into the communities we serve.”
Of particular note among the new theaters is SMG Aliana, near Houston, which per SMG’s official press release will “be a new prototype for SMG and house 12 screens and 1,160 luxury recliners, plus an outdoor viewing area for movies on the yard.” All five theaters will have in common luxury recliners and, of course, SMG’s signature dine-in menu.
Said Schultz in an exclusive interview with Boxoffice Pro on the occasion of receiving CineShow’s 2019 Visionary Award: “We’re too big to be considered a small independent, but we’re too small to be a major. So we made the decision to go big. We’re going to bring our concept to a lot of different cities and reinforce our presence in some of the cities that we’re in.”
SMG’s expansion dovetails with advances on the customer-retention side. In 2018, the chain launched their SMG Access loyalty program. In early 2019, a subscription tier—SMG Access Subscription—was added to the loyalty program; that subscription program is currently still invite-only.
“SMG is focused on expansion, and this year we’ll see continued growth,” per Andrew Bucki, VP of development. “Our segment of movie exhibition continues to be the fastest growing in our industry, and the SMG team is constantly innovating our brand with a focus on facility design, customer service, the best technology, and a robust menu.”