One of four Studio Movie Grill locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (with another on the way in Richardson), the Royal location does what the chain is known for: serving casual dining fare and drinks and showing mainstream movies.
Repertoire:Â Standard Hollywood fare, with the occasional exception, like the documentaryÂ Bill W. (which also showed earlier this year at the Texas Theatre). Alternative programming varies from location to location. 2.5 kernelsÂ Â Â
Concessions:Â A full casual dining menu, with burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, nachos, a variety of chicken tenders and the like, plus a full bar, all served at your seat. Iâve never been wild about SMGâs food, though Iâve had much worse pizza. A recent nacho plate came with lukewarm cheese sauce, fajita chicken and what seemed like a head of lettuce shredded on top. In a pinch, the selection can make up for the unremarkable quality. 2.5 half kernels
Comfort:Â Both the table and counter seating options are comfy. I like the swivel chairs. The temperature is well maintained, and the facilities are kept clean. The lobby bar is inviting and has two large-screen TVs.Â 3 kernels
Technical quality:Â First-rate. The DLP projection and Dolby Digital sound makes for a rich and immersive moviegoing experience. Sound separation between theaters is an issue: I could hearÂ The Dark Knight RisesÂ pounding through the walls during a recent showing ofÂ The Campaign.Â Three and a half kernelsÂ
Convenience:Â Having food and beverages brought to your seat is theoretically very convenient. (See the âIntangiblesâ category for the big caveat). This SMG is easy to get to: hop off North Central Expressway at Royal Lane, take a right and youâre in a spacious parking lot. If youâre in the mood you can hit the Connâs and the Sun & Ski Sports that bracket the theater. 3 kernelsÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Intangibles:Â OK, hereâs my rant. There is an art to serving food during a movie. (See: Alamo Drafthouse). You get in fast, whisper, and make your presence barely detectable. SMG has not mastered this art. Plastic trays are clanked down on counters. The wait staff is constantly visible and scurrying about. Sometimes the chatty audience takes you out of the movie-watching zone, but just as often itâs the feeling that youâre in the midst of a dinner theater production, or a catered event where a movie happens to be playing in the background. If I actually want to pay attention to a film, this is the last place I go. 1 kernel
Overall:Â I see the function of Studio Movie Grill, and I understand the appeal. I just wish the food were a little better and the actual movies less peripheral to the experience.
Studio Movie Grill
11170 North Central Expressway (at Royal Lane)
$9.50 ($9.75 Fri-Sat after 6 p.m.), $8.25 students, $8 matinee ($5 before noon), $8 seniors, $7 children