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KC-area loses 4 drive-in screens as one theater closes

The I-70 Drive-In has closed permanently, retiring the four-screen theater near the Truman Sports Complex.
The I-70 Drive-In has closed permanently, retiring the four-screen theater near the Truman Sports Complex. THE KANSAS CITY STAR

The I-70 Drive In, one of only three drive-in theaters operating in the Kansas City area, has closed permanently. Its end cuts the number of such screens in the area by more than half.

Liberty-based B&B Theatres confirmed in an email Friday that the 4-screen drive-in complex will not reopen in the spring. The I-70 Drive-In website currently lists no showtimes.

B&B Theatres owns several indoor theaters as well as the Twin Drive-In, which remains open in Independence. The Twin Drive-In’s two screens are featuring “The Nun,” “Disney’s Christopher Robin,” “The Meg” and “The Incredibles 2” Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The Boulevard Drive-In also remains open in Kansas City, Kan., with “The First Purge” and “The Nun” showing Friday and Saturday nights.

Wes Neal, owner of the one-screen Boulevard Drive-In, said he believed the I-70 Drive-In was financially successful. Like others, I-70 Drive-In had made the transition to digital projection of movies.

In its emailed statement, B&B Theatres attributed the closing to an inability to continue leasing the property on which the drive-in screens sit.

“Despite making major financial investments in the property, an arrangement with the landlord could not be reached and continued operation was not sustainable,” B&B Theatres said. “We are proud of the time we spent as operators and grateful for the valued tradition the I-70 enjoyed in the Kansas City area.”

The drive-in theater industry has shrunk substantially, but many of its operators will gather at the Boulevard Drive-In this November. Neal said this will be the first time that the annual fall gathering of the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association of America will be held west of the Mississippi River.

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