Update — Gateway Film Center has Released a Statement on the Closing of Studio Movie Grill:
Via a Facebook Post, Gateway Film Theater had this to say:
When you love movies like we do, it’s always a sad day when a theater closes in Columbus.
We love our friends at Studio Movie Grill Arena Grand and have always thought of them as fellow exhibitors, not competitors. Their concept was very different from ours and offered an alternative experience in the city, which we’re always for.
We have reached out to the team to employ as many of their associates as we can, because we’re all in this together.
We also will begin honoring Studio Movie Grill gift cards this weekend, so our neighbors can still use them. If you have an SMG gift card, beginning Friday you can turn it in at our ticket center for two tickets to a movie.
So long and best of luck, Studio Movie Grill friends. Thanks for being part of the city.
For the uninitiated, Studio Movie Grill was a theater where you could effectively order your food in the middle of a movie without leaving your seat.
This concept, while not revolutionary and has seen much success in bigger cities (the one that comes to mind is the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas) and was the first of its kind in downtown Columbus.
Well, as of right now — they’ve permanently closed.
“We definitely thank Columbus for allowing Studio Movie Grill to be a part of your community these past three years,” spokeswoman Lynne McQuaker said in an email. “Unfortunately, SMG has decided to cease operations effective immediately.”
The area’s theater has been a staple since 2001, when Arena Grand Theatre occupied the space for twelve years. After it was sold to the Dallas-based theater chain in 2013, it was entirely renovated and reopened as Studio Movie Grill where it died in three years.
There are likely many reasons why this theater could not last in Columbus. Perhaps the sheer quality of our independent theaters, (Drexel, Gateway, Studio 35) is too much for a non-AMC chain to bare. Perhaps it was the infantile way you sat in a high chair and waited for servers to give you crummy food in the dark or that servers would regularly take orders via their phone —verbally — during the middle of a movie (those are just my opinions, many enjoyed the space, and no hate — I just don’t want someone chewing their burrito in my ear during a big dumb movie.)
Regardless, a perfectly fine theater was killed within three years — and that space is great for a theater. It serves the needed purpose of alternative entertainment (that isn’t sports or music) in a relatively up-and-coming area. While I doubt an AMC chain would stick one of their theaters in the space, I do wonder what could work there.
What do you think? What would you like to see in the Studio Movie Grill space?
[editor’s note: Changed Ohio to Downtown Columbus to fix mistake]