On the Town: Studio Movie Grill looks to screen wide variety of films, help nonprofits

At the Studio Movie Grill, Glendale residents, from left, Elena NyBlom, 18, sister Vanessa, 16, and father Steve NyBlom are super "Star Wars" fans.
(Ruth Sowby Rands/Glendale News-Press)

A little blue now that the holidays are over? Drop by a new entertainment venue you haven’t visited. Opened last October is the newest theater in town.

The Studio Movie Grill, or SMG for short, is on Artsakh Avenue in Glendale. Its mission is to open hearts and minds, “one story at a time,” according to the theater.

Glendale residents Steve NyBlom and daughters Elena, 18, and Vanessa, 16, visited SMG with one story in mind— “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

“We’ve seen them all,” dad said.

The screening last Thursday brought out other “Star Wars” die-hards, as well, including former Glendale resident Cecelia Walker.

She wanted to try out the theater and its amenities, including custom recliners with heated seats, chilled cup holders, advanced digital projection and sound and in-theater dining at the push of a button.

Nolan Kreager, SMG’s general manager, said, “Business is good. We’re still having people discover we are open. We even offer $5 tickets on Tuesdays.”

However, Kreager has more than the bottom line in mind. SMG works closely with “Chefs for Children,” by donating 5% of food and beverage proceeds to local nonprofits serving children with special needs in local communities.

More than $1 million has been contributed by the Texas-based theater chain through its 35 locations. Audience members contribute by ordering “Chefs for Children” menu items such as burgers, chicken bites and pizza.

Kreager added that his goal is to program international films as well as the blockbusters. Opening this week at SMG is the new Armenian comedy, “Honest Thieves.” The film is directed by Gor Kirakosian and has English subtitles.

“We want to be that cornerstone for the community,” Kreager said.

Another relatively new movie theater for Glendale is kitty-corner from the Studio Movie Grill. The Laemmle Glendale is also family-owned. The theater chain opened its Glendale location in August 2018.

The Laemmle Glendale has five screens located in a mixed-use project at the corner of Wilson and Maryland avenues.

It features a blend of programming — art house cinema side by side with popular Hollywood films. The concession stand offers a food menu, craft beer and wines.

The Laemmle Glendale theater is managed by longtime Laemmle employee Cassie Gratton.

“We are excited to bring a Laemmle theater to booming Glendale for the first time,” said Greg Laemmle, president of Laemmle Theaters.

The 75th anniversary of the Glendale Centre Theatre is right around the corner.

Established in 1947 by Ruth and Nathan Hale, the theater continues in family hands. Owner Brenda Dietlein and son, Travis, 18, welcomed their audience to the first Saturday run of the first production of the 2020 season.

The perennial “Charley’s Aunt” tickled funny bones. The plot centers around two Yalies, Charley Wykeham and Jack Chesney, who invite their girlfriends to meet Charley’s wealthy aunt from Brazil.

Brenda Dietlein is the executive producer of the show, which was first produced in England 126 years ago. Dietlein made sure the house was full by offering $10 tickets to anyone who had auditioned for a previous show at the theater.

Production assistant Rebecca Thomas was a last-minute replacement for one of the ingenues in the play. She memorized all of her lines into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

“Luckily, I come on in the second act and have a smaller part,” Thomas said.

She generously posed with four Glendale residents who had signed up for the subscription series of all 15 productions this season. Jane McVay, Cheryl Hannah, Jody Gallagher and Susan Woolley chose flex ticketing, which means they get to choose the day of each show they attend rather than be tied into a fixed date for each production.

“Charley’s Aunt” will run through Feb. 1.

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