With six other locations in California, and many more across the country, Studio Movie Grill has opened its newest location in Glendale in the former location of the MGM Grand 5-Star Cinema. The 10-screen multiplex is located in two buildings just off of Brand, one of which has a 20-foot long bar in the lobby. The other building has a small bar on the second floor. A number of theaters–the Arclight and the Burbank AMC 16–have bars, that’s not the news. Studio Movie Grill serves cocktails as well as full meals and your usual movie snacks right to your seat. You don’t have to miss a minute of the movie when you need a refill.
I imagined the servers taking orders all around me during the movie, and I thought, “This is going to drive certain friends of mine insane.” But during a recent press preview it wasn’t that annoying. Most orders are taken before and during the previews, and the bills are dropped off as the credits start rolling. There is a tiny lamp at each seat to help you see the bill. The servers also move quickly and stealthily, bent over to not block the screen as they drop orders on your little table. Of course, there were only around 20 of us in the audience; a full theater could get really distracting. And the strong cocktails don’t hurt when it comes to not being bothered.The menu is a combination of bar food and concession stand snacks, with some California-inspired salads, wraps, bowls and pastas thrown in. Cheese plates, hummus, flat breads and avocado toast are a few of the more modern snacks offered ($7 – $14). SMG’s signature dish, fried coconut chicken and shrimp, is a bit sweet for my taste, but everyone else loves it. Also on the sweet side was the BBQ sauce, but the brisket sliders ($15) sound so good I would definitely order them–sauce on the side. The burgers ($14) were awesome, as were the desserts. Crème Brulee Cheesecake was sold out, but the Toasted Blonde Brownie, Salted Caramel Cream, and Chocolate Bark ($7) was amazing. When have you ever had a gourmet sundae while watching a movie?
But the true test of any theater is its popcorn, and SMG’s popcorn is fantastic. Reasonably priced at $4, $6, and $7, the popcorn is freshly popped and topped with warm butter and or Kettle Korn, White Cheddar, Cheesy Jalapeño, Ranch, or Nacho Cheddar Seasoning for an additional $2. The popcorn comes in bags, not the giant tubs, so you may need to order one for each person in your group. But that’s cool, I don’t want anyone fighting over kettle Korn vs. Nacho Cheese when I’m trying to watch a movie.
There are a lot of good beers on tap, including Angry Orchard, Blue Moon, Born Blonde, Modelo Especial, and Racer 5 IPA with a rotating selection of local craft brews. Red, White, Rose and Sparkling wines can be purchased by the glass or by the bottle. They have my mother’s favorite–Cupcake Moscato, and my favorite–Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, which is all I really look for in a wine list. Cocktails run around $14, with top shelf spirits, and unless they were just trying to liquor up the press, they are strong. I tried the EFFEN Cosmopolitan made with Effen Vodka, Cranberry, Triple Sec, Lemon Zest, and Lime, and the refreshingly not-too-sweet Cruzan Mai Tai made with Cruzan Light and Dark Rums, Orange, Pineapple, Orgeat, and Coconut. Fountain drinks are all-natural Stubborn Sodas brand with no high fructose corn syrup.
The seats are super-luxe recliners with adjustable headrests, seat warmers, chilled cup holders, a call button, and a table that swings to the side. The screens are large and the sound system is not loud enough to be teeth-rattling. Tickets run from $13.50 to $16.50 for adults depending on the time of day. they are also involved in local charities, and if you join their movie club, your points count towards providing meals and films to non-profits. They sell gift cards if you want to give someone a special experience for the holidays. WEBSITE.