The Transformative Power of Cinema
Brian Schultz is the founder and CEO of Look Cinemas. Schultz established Studio Movie Grill in Dallas in 1993, and the company quickly became one of the nation’s most successful dine-in entertainment venues. What seemed an obscure novelty in the ‘90s quickly became one of the industry’s most popular concepts, but that did not save Studio Movie Grill from the pandemic. In a now all-too-familiar story, the pandemic led to many changes for the company, one of which is that Schultz left in 2020 and decided to start a new venture called Look Cinemas. Using a business model similar to, but more ambitious than Studio Movie Grill, Look Cinemas has opened twelve theatres in under two years, most recently on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the Brutalist VIA building near the Hudson River that was previously occupied by Landmark Theatres. Schultz says, “Ultimately, our purpose is to bring people together. When guests choose Look, we want them to feel like they can escape for a while and share an incredible entertainment experience with the ones they love.” Opening any movie theatre is a serious undertaking but doing it in Manhattan poses challenges that are unlike any place else. I recently spoke with Schultz to learn what obstacles he faced in opening New York City’s newest movie theatre and his vision for the future of not just Look Cinemas but of the exhibition business itself. Here is that conversation.