Marshall Cinema to close doors in August

Monday, July 26, 2010
Marshall Cinema is slated to close for good in a few weeks. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)

Closing credits are starting to roll as Marshall Cinema enters its last month of operation.

From first dates to marriage proposals, the cinema anchored the Marshall community. Going to the movies is a favorite memory of many -- if not most -- people's childhood.

The closing is not unexpected.

Marshall Democrat-News blogger Andrew Wells pondered the question in November 2008.

"But that's really what it comes down to; can the Marshall Cinema make enough money to even justify its own existence? From some of the crowds I saw during those big money summer blockbusters, I would think not," Wells wrote in his Nov. 18, 2008 column.

"I took my son to a matinee screening of 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' on a dreary Memorial Day afternoon and we were the only ones in the theater. The movie was four days old at that point and has been one of the biggest moneymakers of the year so far."

Cinema Manager Dan Vermillion agreed that attendance impacted the decision by B&B Theaters.

"When our steakhouse closed, our business went to Sedalia," Vermillion said. "People still go out for a steak and a movie -- they just go to Sedalia."

Three years ago, before Wells postulated on the future of Marshall Cinema, B&B Theaters was looking into building a new theater in Marshall, Vermillion said.

"The city wanted $200,000 for the footprint," he said. "If they had built the new theater three years ago, I think we would still have a theater."

The current building is more than 100 years old and maintenance costs on the structure chew up an increasing portion of the cinema's revenue, Vermillion said.

However, one of the main reasons B&B is pulling out of Marshall is what Vermillion describes as a change in business direction.

"They are moving toward larger communities and larger theaters," he said.

Nationally theaters have been undergoing the slow, expensive process of upgrading from traditional projectors to digital projectors.

The upgrade to digital costs about $70,000 and the 3-D add-on can run another $30,000. Vermillion said there is an industry consortium that helps small theaters make the transition.

However, B&B Theaters is not a small chain. B&B Theaters currently has 31 movie theaters with at least 200 screens in four states and one theater under construction in Wildwood.

Contact Pat Nolan at

Related story:
Marshall Cinema slated to close in August:

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  • I am sad to hear that the theater is closing, as a girl we went every Saturday afternoon. and As a teenager and young woman date night every Saturday or Sunday night. When we went to Marshall as a school group to have picture made at Gilkey,s we got to also go to the movie there. What great date memories I have and the people I met there.

    -- Posted by Grand Pass gal on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 3:19 PM
  • Having no movie theater is one more reason for me not to move back to Marshall. As far as I'm concerned, if Marshall doesn't have a movie theater it isn't really a city, just a dot on a road map and an insignificant speed reduction on the highway. This is one more reason Marshall is a good place to be from and not a good place to live in, in my opinion.

    -- Posted by Ray on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 4:18 PM
  • The Theater did this to it's self. There refusal to carry certain movies due to content and there expectation for people to pay 8 bucks to see a movie in lower quality. Galaxy isn't that far away and they don't shun movies. I would rather drive 30 miles then pay 8 bucks to watch a movie here. If they would have lowered there prices rather then raising them they would have survived but no one is going to pay 8 bucks to watch a movie that is out of focus half the time. PLUS if the power went out during a movie you got a coupon for free popcorn and had to pay to see the move AGAIN!

    -- Posted by Selmac8 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 7:14 PM
  • Selmac8,

    I know for a fact that those popcorn passes haven't been given out in over three years, so OBVIOUSLY you have not attended a movie at Marshall Cinema in recent enough time period to determine whether or not the films were shown in focus. In fact, in a case where the power went out, you would have been given a Courtesy Ticket, which is a free ticket to any movie, any time! The mis-information that thrives in Marshall is ridiculous.

    -- Posted by Owl12345 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 7:40 PM
  • Selmac8- Marshall Cinema has no control over ticket prices or what movies were showing. Home office sends out bookings to all theaters and tells them what movies they will get. The company also sets the ticket prices for every theater in the chain; so I would disagree that Marshall Cinema "did this to itself"

    -- Posted by basher11 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 7:56 PM
  • Selmac8- Marshall Cinema has no control over ticket prices or what movies were showing. Home office sends out bookings to all theaters and tells them what movies they will get. The company also sets the ticket prices for every theater in the chain; so I would disagree that Marshall Cinema "did this to itself"

    -- Posted by basher11 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 7:57 PM
  • Selmac8- Marshall Cinema has no control over ticket prices or what movies were showing. Home office sends out bookings to all theaters and tells them what movies they will get. The company also sets the ticket prices for every theater in the chain; so I would disagree that Marshall Cinema "did this to itself"

    -- Posted by basher11 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 7:57 PM
  • i would have to agree why pay 8 dollars to watch a low quaility movie when i can go to sedalia and pay 8 dollars and get the gratest movie exparience ever and get to watch movies in 3d... get a new place and make it better and upto date then maybe people wont complain so much about the prices

    -- Posted by mtshell08 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 8:08 PM
  • Today marks yet another decline in Marshall history. It is more than sad that the Cinema is closing, it will be missed. As someone who worked there a number of years ago and have a lot of really neat memories from my time there, it makes me wonder what is really at the root of the issue. Sure, we could say that a neighboring community is a bit less expensive for tickets and consession item, but what about the gas it cost to drive there?

    I believe the real issue is something that has plagued Marshall for many years: Too many of our residents refuse to buy local and keep our money in town. We go to Columbia, Sedalia and KC to get our various items or entertainment needs taken care of instead buying everything we can here in Marshall before we head to other communities. I am aware that not everything can be purchased here locally, but more shopping could be done here than currently goes on. All the while our local merchants wonder how long they will be able to remain open.

    As a community, we often let our local merchants down. Then people are sad when a business closes. Let us take this as a call to each of us to search Marshall merchants FIRST for items we need before going to other communities and boosting their economy. Let's face it folks, as a community, we need each other and our merchants need us as well. Think Marshall first, so we don't have to keep seeing our hard working local vendors fade away.

    -- Posted by sparkywire on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 8:32 PM
  • I agree with Mr. Vermillion. When you can't go out for a good meal in this town and you have to go elsewhere for that why would you drive back to Marshall to then see a movie? I think it is sad that for quite some time there has not been a good restaurant in this town and now there won't even be a movie theatre. We need a good go-in sit-down restaurant and what do we get...a Dollar Tree. We already have a Dollar General and the Family Dollar recently went out of business. But, hey, let's bring in something we don't need which might provide 10 low paying jobs, and not what most people say is important to them and our town -- a business that would provide a large amount of good paying jobs, a nice restaurant or two, and something fun to do.

    Another thing I think about is what is there here for the teenagers to do, but go out and find some trouble to get into. Yes, younger kids have the skating rink and in the summer time the pool. But older teenagers don't go skating usually after they are old enough to drive. Yes, there is the skate park and some organized sports, but a lot of kids just aren't in to skateboarding and sports. What is there here for those young people to do on a Friday night? At least they could go to the movies...until now.

    I believe the leaders of this town should take this as a sign of the future. First of all, we need things for the teenagers to do so they won't be out finding mischief. Secondly, we also need to give young people some incentive to return to their hometown and start their families here after they've gone off to college. If you moved off to a city to go to college where there were businesses, restaurants, and entertainment choices would you want to stay in that city or move home to a dying little town that offers very few good-paying employment opportunities and/or leisure activities? If something is not done to bring businesses to this town that will not only create jobs but also bring in the things that are important enough to townspeople that they are now willing to drive at least 30 miles to get, the younger generation won't return here to build their futures and people who've called Marshall home up until now will slowly start moving to the towns that do offer the job opportunities and amenities that they desire. Then the town will do exactly what the movie theatre is being forced to do...fold up!

    -- Posted by Typesetter on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 8:52 PM
  • this is sad !! a lot of tradition for my family & i at that cinema, from my childhood standing in a line all the way up and around the corner on the square to see JAWS, to my teenage years of friday night movies with friends, to present day by going to afternoon movies on all of the holidays, etc. for family outings !! sad to see you go B&B now marshall we be that more boring of a place to live with one more choice gone but not forgotten :[

    -- Posted by gokinser11 on Mon, Jul 26, 2010, at 10:28 PM
  • Could some one please tell me why on earth my post was removed?

    -- Posted by Gal66 on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 6:14 AM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
    No comments by you have been removed.

    -- Posted by 1OFTHEGALS on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 8:01 AM
  • Gal66 - There are two stories with this headline. Your comments are posted to the other one.

    -- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 9:00 AM
  • It would be easier to shop local if the locals didn't mark everything up so high. I started comparing prices and deals anywhere from clothes to cars, apparently the locals don't think they have any competition, the cities know they have competition therefore have competitive pricing, if there wasn't so much greed around here, the people in this area might be more willing to spend a few dollars in town.

    -- Posted by MBGAL on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 11:39 AM
  • Let me be clear that I do not mean to insinuate that the Cinema was greedy, the prices were a little higher but I don't believe it to be from greed, I believe it to be for a chance of surviving and I'm sad to see it go.

    -- Posted by MBGAL on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 11:49 AM
  • I'm sure they would sell the theater to anyone here who would like to buy it. Any takers?........that's what I thought.

    -- Posted by What the f...... on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 12:17 PM
  • If anyone were to ever build a new theater here they could also add an up to date arcade. That would give the kids even more to do.

    Maybe the MSDC could get on top of trying to get another company to come here and......oh, wait a minute, what am I saying? Don't get rid of your DVD players just yet.

    -- Posted by What the f...... on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 12:24 PM
  • MBGAL, A lesson in small business. Since they order less inventory, they have to pay more for that inventory. It's the big corporate-run businesses that get a break for purchasing more inventory than a small business can. The small business then has to pass that cost on, pay all the business expenses, payroll and so on and so forth. If you are not willing to shop local, they order even less inventory at higher costs! SO, if you and/or others would commit to your community with shopping locally, the costs could be reasonable, given the time and cost of gas for everyone to travel elsewhere. So for the smaller businesses you are complaining about, IT isn't greed, IT is a matter of survival for them to open their doors and give you the personalized and friendly service that you certainly don't get much of in bigger cities! This is why the Cinema is closing and the downtown Marshall area boasts very few shops. The one's that are there are the best at what they do, they care about the service they give to the community and they care about their community to hang on, probably by the tips of the fingers. It is not greed that is driving them and I seriously doubt in these times that they are getting wealthy!

    -- Posted by nouveaublogger on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 12:29 PM
  • Personalized and friendly, ha!

    -- Posted by MBGAL on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 12:54 PM
  • I'm glad to see that's the only thing I stated that you took exception to. :P!

    It has been my experience when shopping downtown Marshall, the service I have received has been personable and friendly. Can't say the same for the larger corporate-run stores, at least 95% of the time. As for me, I happen to be a small business owner and I do my very best to be courteous, respectful, personable and give the best service I possibly can for a fair fare! Maybe it's attitude.

    -- Posted by nouveaublogger on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 1:08 PM
  • :P, Business must be booming with your freindly attitude at 1:00 on a Tuesday afternoon!

    -- Posted by MBGAL on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 2:41 PM
  • Marshall has always wanted to stay small and not let in more businesses for growth. the result is that Sedalia, Kansas City, and Columbia are getting our money.

    -- Posted by karlacocok on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 2:55 PM
  • The prices were not a reason for the closing. If you go to any other movie theatres we were right on with our prices or even cheaper (tickets & concessions). And like it was said saying they should lower their prices is like saying our Pizza Hut should have cheaper pizza's, when your run by a corporation they have blanket prices no matter of your area or quality of facility. What killed the cinema was simply that it was too small. The reason we only had certain movies was because we only get 2 movies at a time! It's easy for Sedalia to have all the movies because they have like 10 to 15 theatres, we have 2! The only way a cinema will work is if someone built a new one with at least 5 or 6 theatres, maybe someday it will happen but until then people will just have to go to Sedalia. It's sad, but it was inevitable...what worked 40 years ago doesn't always work now!!

    -- Posted by oldschool17 on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 3:07 PM
  • And for those who blame Marshall, the fact is Marshall is what it is. We are a small midwest town. We have no big events, we have no great history and we have nothing that makes us stand out. We are no different than Chillicothe or Fulton. You know why Sedalia gets more business, because they have the state fair there, that's guranteed hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars a year! Boonville, has a casino that brings in hundreds of thousands of tourist a year! We have a dead dog and a museum that while very cool and very well done, the subject is so unimportant that people born and raised in this town (like me) have never even heard of it before the museum was built!

    Nothing can change we don't have any history, nothing can change we don't have a huge festival or fair, nothing can change we aren't on the river where a casion could be built. We are quiet nice little town, great place to raise kids and a great place to live a nice relaxing life. If you don't like it, than don't let the door hit you on the way out. If you want to stay and complain, than put your money where your mouth is and do something about it instead of just whining!!!

    -- Posted by oldschool17 on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 3:16 PM
  • it is sad to see it go but we have to look at it and see the big picture. it is a business and if it is not bringing in the business then it has to close. yes you are right there is only one decent sit down place to eat here. why would you want to go on a date go to applebees and then go to a theater which chairs are broken carpet is torn up and not see recent movie. the prices are the same as anywhere the company set the prices. it is just another business that left town cause the people find more to do in other cities.

    we could get another theater here but would it produce the clientel that is needed for to it to survive. it is not about the teenagers with nothing to do it is about this town doesnt have alot of business here in town. the plannig and zoneing commiettee needs to think of the town and not their pockets since the ones on the commettee are the wealthy ones who dont want anyone comeing in here and taking some of their profits.

    the town needs a new school but with out business to help revenue in this town we are not going to get new schools. i think the planning and zoneing committee needs to pull their heads out of where ever they are and doing something for this town.

    -- Posted by retired military on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 4:57 PM
  • MBGAL, business is mostly seasonal (Fall&Spring) and Mondays and Tuesdays off. It bears repeating, maybe it's attitude!

    -- Posted by nouveaublogger on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 5:37 PM
  • This town has the history of being non-supportive to almost every new small business (Mom and Pop). The odds of a small business surviving the first five years are pretty slim and when you throw in the apathetic citizens of Marshall, there is no need to even try.

    The movie theater was a chain. The bottom line is of course $$$$$$$$$$$. Most big business' any more do not have the attitude of "what can I do for you?" but "what can you do for me?". No one should be surprised the place is closing. No one should be surprised when there is no replacement.

    Marshall is not a very attractive place for most business' to locate here. The big boys can open their business any where they want. The small timers are all looking for concessions and give-aways. Don't blame the lack of movement on the local economic development people. They are fighting a stacked deck.

    There are some fairly recent new small business people that are an apparent success. Right off I think of China Inn and Bloomfield's. These places are owned by people who opened their business intending to make Marshall their home and had the tenacity and wherewithal to stick out the lean years. Their are others for certain so one of you fellow bloggers can add them to the list if you wish.

    Think about you and yours committing the money to open a new cinema. Do you really think there will be enough customers to make the business a success?

    The common way to open a succesful new business is to identify a need then fulfill the need. How needed is a cinema?

    -- Posted by red dog on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 6:33 PM
  • We talk and talk but don't do anything! I wonder why that is? I guess it is easier to post something here than get out and make something happen. Maybe Marshall is just lazy and when you are lazy you go nowhere and get pasted by.

    The cinema closing is only a symptom of what is happening to this community - a slow painful death!!

    You don't need a casino or the state fair to make a community special. There are more towns without these things and still find someway to promote their locations. You hear about the tourism committee/board and the economic development board but I don't know what they do to help make Marshall special. The development board is a joke!!! Where is the development???

    Sorry! got off subject of the cinema but like I said it is a symptom of the problems with this community. Where is the doctor!!! We need resuscitation in a big way!

    -- Posted by walkingblind on Tue, Jul 27, 2010, at 10:11 PM
  • Dead town=

    PayDay loans and Rent~ 2~ Owns.

    For the KO...add no cinema and illegal aliens to the list.


    -- Posted by EiEiO on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 5:30 AM
  • What is all this talk of the town fading away? Through the years, I don't recall any situation where the town has actually fallen backwards. There have been some inevitable business closures, the cinema being only one of them; the shoe factory another. The $$$$$$$$$ were talking to the owners.

    The cinema has been slowly fading away since television appeared on the scene; the advent of tapes, hastened by the dvd and the death knoll was the quick release of first run movies.

    The shoe factory business went away because of $$$$$$$$$$. It is cheaper to make shoes off shore. Cheap labor and cheap materials.

    Marshall is but catching it's breath and there is certainly no need to think about writing an obituary yet. I remember similar discussions at Sarley's Restaurant and you know how long ago that must have been.

    -- Posted by red dog on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 6:15 AM
  • Would somebody please open a steakhouse around here? How many times must I drive to Sedalia and other neighboring towns for a decent meal?

    -- Posted by mtownresident on Wed, Jul 28, 2010, at 7:42 AM
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