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This Beloved Restaurant–Movie Theater Chain Has Filed For Bankruptcy

Mandated closures and delayed film releases are putting movie theaters in jeopardy.

Being a restaurant amid a global pandemic is tough enough, so imagine being a restaurant and movie theater at the same time. Studio Movie Grill, a chain that serves dinner and cocktails in front of the big screen, became the latest chain to file for bankruptcy over the weekend.

The Dallas-based theater restaurant with 33 locations across 10 states has struggled this year amid mandated shutdowns and a slimmed-down supply of new movie releases. All locations were shut down between March and June, and only 21 have reopened for business with limited capacity so far. (Related: 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)

Court documents revealed that the pandemic had depleted the company's cash reserves—and it's down to its last $100,000 in cash. While the company hopes to renegotiate deals with landlords and lenders, much remains unknown for a business dependent on moves within the film industry.

"SMG anticipates that demand for its services will remain very tenuous until theaters are able to return to full capacity and major motion pictures resume being released for first-run theater showings," William Snyder, the company's chief restructuring officer, said in the filing.

Prior to the pandemic, the chain was the fastest-growing company-owned theater chain, with more than 25 years of growing year-over-year sales, according to Restaurant Business Online.

A lack of movie-goers and limited capacity operations have also pushed several large movie theater chains to the brink. AMC, the largest cinema chain in the nation, and B&B Theaters, the sixth-largest, have both warned of looming bankruptcies. Regal, the second-largest chain, shut down more than 500 locations two weeks ago. While some theaters are reopening, the vast majority will remain shuttered for the unforeseeable future.

Rolling with the punches, theaters have sought out unconventional sources of revenue this year. Some have been rented out their spaces for events such as concerts and trivia nights, while others have opted to screen classics and even set up drive-in theaters in their parking lots.

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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