Movie theaters undoubtedly took a hard beating during the pandemic, but the Look Dine-In Theater chain took the hardest hit. The movie theater chain went out of business in 2020, closing its only North Texas location on Belt Line Road in Addison.
That’s when Brian Schultz, the new CEO of Look Cinemas and founder of the Studio Movie Grill chain, went to work to revive the Look Cinema franchise.
“From my perspective, there’s fits and starts,” Schultz says, “but generally, the big screen is back.”
Look reopened its dine-in movie theater experience in a new location on Technology Boulevard in mid-summer along with five other national locations. While the pandemic forced movie theaters to close down or declare bankruptcy — like the Studio Movie Grill, which Schultz left — it also gave chains time to retool their business model.
“COVID gave us a chance to start again with a white piece of paper and really innovate and project what movie theaters and the era of dine-in and stay-in movie-going experiences would be,” Schultz says. “I think there’s going to be a move of people who totally embrace it.”
Look has shifted a big part of its theater to making private screenings and events more accessible. The dine-in theater is offering a lower theater rental price of $99 for customers and “as many guests as you like,” Schultz says.
“We’re definitely not at the same levels we were pre-pandemic but the content has also been a little bit spotty,” Schultz says. “My personal belief is that the [James] Bond film that we got to see extended trailers of in Las Vegas in mid-October, that’s when we’ll start to come back to pre-COVID attendance levels.”
Guests can rent the theater to watch first-run or classic screenings, hold private events and even play games or watch e-sports events on the big screen. The theater set up a private viewing experience of Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds to share their new movie viewing and dining experience in action. Guests can order meals from a full menu of appetizers and dishes through their phone during the pre-screening time while enjoying a film, or anything on the big screen, in a plush, comfortable chair.
“We’re movie lovers and think absolutely that it’s an important time for the community to come back together and get the group experience you can only get in a dark room movie theater,” Schultz says.
Even though movie theaters are open again, audiences aren’t flooding to them like they did before the pandemic. Schultz says he expects that to change.
“They’ve been out of habit of going to movies, but they’re also pretty darn sick of sitting on the couch and watching a movie no matter how big the TV is,” Schultz says. “When you see a picture on the big screen and everyone can get that feeling together again … people want to bring that back.”