Photo: Studio Movie Grill in Duluth. CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Photo: Studio Movie Grill in Duluth. CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Studio Movie Grill CEO: Happy Kemp is giving option to open, but not quite there yet

Studio Movie Grill CEO Brian Schultz applauded Gov. Brian Kemp’s move to allow movie theaters to operate again today but he isn’t ready to open his three Georgia theaters just yet in the midst of the pandemic. 

“I really value the option to be able to open,” said Schultz, a Dallas, Texas resident who opened his first Studio Movie Grill in 2000 and is known for popularizing the concept of full-service dining while watching a film. He now has 34 theaters in 10 states, all currently closed. “I applaud states and municipalities that are letting businesses use proper judgment and support their clientele.”

His three theaters in metro Atlanta are in Duluth, Alpharetta and Marietta. 

Schultz said he regularly polls his customers and employees nationwide and there is a wide variance in opinion. He said those in smaller towns where the virus has had lesser impact are more willing to re-open sooner.

His patrons in Georgia, which is ranked 12th in reported cases and fatalities nationwide, “are feeling it’s a little bit too early. The No. 1 thing that really popped out is this focus on social distancing and really strong cleaning measures.”

Schultz will open his theaters one by one, location by location, rather than all at once. 

Movie theaters face a tough future if too many people get used to streaming films at home and no longer want to congregate communally in a theater. 

Schultz said attending movies is a habit that needs to be cultivated or, in this case, re-cultivated.

If there aren’t enough new releases when he does re-open, he is working with film companies to pluck out quality classic or cult films for singles, families and couples. Movie distributors have pushed back major tent-pole movies like the James Bond movie “No Time To Die” to November and Disney’s “Mulan” to July 24. No consequential film is expected to hit theaters until mid-July at the earliest. 

Photo: This “Mulan” poster at Studio Movie Grill still has the original relase date for the movie March 27. CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

RELATED: A list of major films that were going to be released from March until July that have been pushed back

Schultz said he plans to provide significant discounts to draw people in for a time and offer a “value menu” for those who are on tight budgets. 

If states can properly flatten the curve, he hopes all his theaters will be back in some sort of operating form by mid-July. 

“We have to make sure all the stakeholders feel comfortable,” Schultz said. “Customers, employees, investors, vendors all have  to play a part.” 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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