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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Files For Chapter 11, Closes Kansas City's Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet

The Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City is one of several of the chain's theaters that are being closed down because they say there are few blockbuster movies available.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
The Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet in downtown Kansas City will close due to the pandemic and its parent company's bankruptcy.

The Texas-based movie theater chain has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close venues in Texas and Missouri.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, known for themed screenings and events, bottomless bowls of popcorn, and its "no talking" policy, has filed for bankruptcy and is closing at least three locations, including the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

The Texas-based theater chain runs about 40 locations across the country, but only a third have reopened since shutdowns a year ago over COVID-19 restrictions. Besides its Kansas City theater in the downtown Power & Light district, it is closing theaters in Austin, Texas, and New Braunfels, Texas.

The Chapter 11 filing in Delaware showed the Kansas City theater owes nearly $2 million to its landlord, EPR Properties.

On its website Wednesday Alamo posted:

Last March, we temporarily closed Mainstreet along with every other Alamo Drafthouse location. Nearly a year later, we’re incredibly sad to tell you that because of the ongoing impact of COVID, we will not be reopening Mainstreet.

Opened a century ago this October, the theater has so much history in its walls, having hosted the likes of Cab Calloway, Charlie Chaplin, and the Marx Brothers. We’re honored to have been its custodian for the past nine years.

To our team members past and present, our endless thanks and gratitude. It’s been your passion, hard work, and dedication that made Mainstreet a unique and wonderful home for film lovers in Kansas City. To our guests in the Kansas City area – thank you so much for your support over the years.

The closing of the Alamo leaves a movie theater desert in Kansas City, Missouri.

Screenland at Tapcade, a movie theater, restaurant, and arcade in the Crossroads closed in August due to the pandemic. Their second location, Screenland Armour in North Kansas City, remains open.

Cinemark Palace at the Plaza at 526 Nichols Road closed in May 2019. Cinemark, also a Texas-based chain, had operated at that location since 1999.

Westport’s Tivoli Cinemas also closed in 2019, in April. The arthouse movie theater reopened in October 2019 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, but, since the pandemic, the Tivoli has only offered virtual screenings.

In a statement, Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Kansas City Power & Light District, said, “We are saddened by the closing of Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet. The impact of COVID continues to be a challenge for businesses both locally and across the country."

The building first opened in 1921 as a vaudeville and movie house called the Mainstreet Missouri. It's changed names over the years, including the RKO Missouri Theater in 1941, and the Empire in 1960, and also faced the risk of demolition with deteriorating conditions. In 2009, after significant restoration, it reopened as the AMC Mainstreet Theater. The Alamo took over operations in 2012.

Benjamin added, "The Power & Light District is a proud steward of this iconic building, which plays a key role in Kansas City's downtown neighborhood. We are working hard to find the perfect addition to write the next chapter for this historic venue, and we hope to have exciting news about its future soon.”

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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