Last year, as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on both restaurants and movie theaters in the U.S., Brian Schultz asked himself: “If I was going to start a new dine-in cinema company, what would I do differently?”
During the worst months of last year, many entertainment venues—including a number of big-name movie theaters—were temporarily, and later, permanently, shuttering their doors. But it wasn’t surprising that Schultz was peering through the fog, innovating and adapting to be on the forefront of a changed industry.
Schultz is well known as a pioneer in the dine-in cinema category, having been the founder and CEO of Dallas-based Studio Movie Grill. With 30 years’ experience as a cinema executive, he played a major role in mainstreaming the concept of enjoying an actual meal (not just popcorn) while seeing a movie in a theater.
That’s why he knew things would be different in a post-pandemic world.
So he asked himself another question: “What makes going to the cinema unique and special for guests?” Schultz realized he had to find a way to reinvent the experience, with a variety of carefully curated details that would give audiences reasons to leave their homes and buy tickets to the cinema.
Dallas-based LOOK Dine-In Cinemas was born from those questions.
The concept is based on the factors that make people want to go to the movies. With its modern, luxury model, LOOK offers a state-of-the-art immersive presentation, an upscale food and drink menu, and an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Moviegoers can expect higher quality bites—think sushi, hand-tossed pizza, a charcuterie board—delivered quickly and quietly in the dark. Pair it with a red or white wine, signature cocktail, or draft beer and the meal mirrors what you can get in a restaurant.
On the screen, guests can expect a range of blockbuster films, independent projects, and documentaries. LOOK also offers private screenings, allowing customers to rent out an entire theater to enjoy with a select number of friends. A variety of programming and community events are offered as well.
Anchoring it all is technology
Schultz and his team describe LOOK as a “technology-first luxury cinema,” in which the entire guest experience relies on the company’s Look & Dine platform. Anyone inside the theater can order, pay, and receive anything directly from their seat via their mobile phone.
Earlier this summer, the first LOOK Dine-In Cinemas opened on Technology Boulevard in Dallas as a 14-screen, full-service movie theater. Since then, five more venues have rolled out in California and Florida. Arizona and New York locations are coming soon.
In California, LOOK took over three Studio Movie Grill leases to reopen venues. That comes on the heels of the chain filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.
“Dallas is our home and so it’s particularly exciting to launch LOOK Dine-In Cinemas in the community that has given me so much,” Schultz said at the time of the Dallas opening. “I’m honored to provide a shared space where people can come together after an unprecedented period of social isolation. As a champion of conscious capitalism, we’re excited to create a company that honors all stakeholders—our team, guests, vendors and investors—and to create jobs where employees can earn a living wage.”
Currently, Schultz says LOOK employs around 400 employees, and he plans to grow to 20 cinemas by the end of 2022.
Here’s more from Schultz on why he plans to transform the industry while at the same time spreading LOOK’s footprint across the country for people primed to socialize and see movies in theaters again:
What sets LOOK apart from other dine-in movie theaters?
Our guests are looking for a unique experience when going out to enjoy their favorite content. LOOK Dine-In Cinemas is an innovator in the entertainment space and incorporates the newest technology that enables our guests to be in control of their experience. A few ways that LOOK sets itself apart from other dine-in theaters:
Hospitality focused: We are hyper-focused on delivering attentive service and creating a fun environment where guests can escape for a few hours.
Elevated dining experience: Our world class menu looks beyond the traditional moviegoing fare with everything from cocktails to pizza to sushi. Our guests are able to enjoy fresh, made-to-order cuisine and craft cocktails (beer, wine, etc) that is delivered directly to their seats.
Distraction-free environment: Our unique Look & Dine technology allows guests to customize their Look & Dine experience. Guests order on their phones and pay as they go. Their food is delivered without distractions or interruptions.
How do you plan to get people back to the theater post-COVID?
Fortunately, the movie-going audience is ready to come back to the theater and we are giving guests many reasons to return.
Whether they’re interested in experiencing big blockbuster movies like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “The Adams Family 2,” “The Many Saints of Newark,” “No Time To Die,” or “Dune,” concerts and live performances, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy over the next few months.
Why do you call LOOK “technology-first”?
LOOK leans into the latest innovation and technology to maximize the entertainment experience in all areas of the guest’s journey.
- Integrated software enables LOOK to offer ticket sales online, at a designated kiosk or at the box office.
- One-tap menu access and pay-as-you-go software allow guests to be in charge of their experience with minimal distractions or interruptions.
- The latest in digital projection technology in all auditoriums enables guests to enjoy the content as the filmmakers intended.
- Recliner seating makes it easy to sit back comfortably, relax, and enjoy the experience.
- Finally, LOOK’s digital technology delivers all types of content from gaming and music to independent films and Hollywood blockbusters.
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