Demise of Dollar Movie

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The Picture Show at Merchants Exchange has seen many changes over the years in the Marietta/Roswell area. Photo Credit: Chris P, Yelp reviewer

Claire Mulkey

The Picture Show at Merchants Exchange, known as the Dollar Movie to local residents, will soon undergo major renovation. With the death for the $2 movie comes the death of an era, a time when reclining leather seats and full dinner menus were not must-haves for a theater to survive.

The theater, which opened in 1987, has passed through many different owners and managements. It has closed and reopened many times, especially in the early 2000s. The most recent reopening was in 2004. The theater is currently closed but is expected to open up again by early March of this year.

Big changes are taking place at the Merchant’s Exchange location of the family-owned business. The most significant difference is the switch to first-run movies and the price increase. Formerly, movies were $1 on Thursdays and $2 any other time. However, a movie will now likely cost $6.75 if before 6 p.m. and $9 after 6 p.m. “While I understand that the company has to charge more in order to pay for the renovations, it’s simply disappointing to lose one of the last bargain theaters in the Marietta/Roswell area. I honestly never minded the seating, because I knew that I was only paying $2.00,” said Yelp reviewer Eddy H. 

The new renovations include a Coke Freestyle machine, leather recliners, a full bar, and an expanded concessions with pizza and french fries. The ticket prices will be increasing from the original prices, but will still beat prices of movie theaters like AMC or Movie Tavern, allowing for an “affordable experience,” says Picture Show Entertainment Marketing Manager Bria Naylor. The eight other Picture Show locations have already been updated, so the Merchants Exchange theater, the second-oldest Picture Show establishment, is up for renovations. 

Customers had been complaining on sites such as Yelp for awhile about the conditions of the theater. For example, “The place is SUPER run down. Carpets needs some serious steaming, the whole thing needs a facelift, or just some good deep cleaning from top to bottom,” posted another Yelp reviewer, Queenie D. Other complaints concerned the cleanliness of the bathrooms, broken or run-down seats, non-reclining seats, dirty floors, unfriendly staff, and poor quality food. However, most reviewers seemed to come to the same general consensus: “The fantastic price of $2 can’t be beat,” as Marie M., another reviewer, said. Most reviewers listed their concerns regarding the upkeep of the theater, but usually ended by saying something along the lines of ‘you get what you pay for.’ 

The changes seem warranted after reading the mostly negative reviews of Merchants Exchange. The renovations need to be made in order for the Marietta location to stay in business. The company had to make a decision to close down or to stay in business and meet the demands of the customers. The theater was “falling into disrepair,” and changes had to be made to keep their “loyal audience,” says Naylor. 

The upcoming changes will certainly be a shock to longtime customers, but will hopefully be a breath of fresh air for the Roswell/East Cobb establishment.

 

Check out this article to read about an alternative to movie theaters.