On Sunday, Cinemark Palace at the Plaza’s art deco marquee was a blank slate, with no “now showing” movie titles.
By Monday morning, it read: “Theatre closed. Thank you for letting us entertain you for 20 years. Please visit Cinemark 20 and XD Merriam.”
Nearly a week ago, The Star reported that the Country Club Plaza’s only movie theater would be closing.
Now it’s official, though Plaza officials declined to comment Monday and Cinemark officials did not return phone calls or emails on the closing.
Several fans of the theater — some who have been customers since it opened — visited Sunday night to take last photos. Some concession stands were already being disassembled.
Customers responded to the Star’s Facebook post on the closing with such comments as:
▪ “This theater is literally the only reason I even go to the Plaza anymore. IMO this is a big loss for the Plaza. KC doesn’t need more ‘upscale’ overpriced theaters with uncomfortable pleather recliners.”
▪ “Great. There is no need for a rundown theater in a nice shopping plaza.”
Plaza officials have previously said an upscale movie theater was on their wish list. Some moviegoers wanted to see theater companies such as AMC take over and remodel the Cinemark space at 526 Nichols Road. AMC officials declined to comment.
When it opened 20 years ago on May 7, 1999, Cinemark set higher standards for the market and even boasted a VIP room with unlimited popcorn and soft drinks delivered by waiters to customers’ spacious, overstuffed recliner chairs.
As other theaters remodeled and new upgraded theaters opened, Cinemark drew customers with relatively lower ticket prices and a large number of seats.
The closing seems related to Nordstrom taking over the west side of the Plaza, just across the street from Cinemark’s main theaters. Several Cinemark screens on that site — reached by a walkway over Jefferson Street — were not included in Nordstrom’s plans for a new 122,000-square-foot store in 2021.
But it had been unclear what the plans were for the main theater.
The Cinemark building once housed Sears. But it was converted to Seville Square in 1977 — a multitenant shopping center focused on the “under-40 lifestyle,” according to Star archives.
It had 42 operations, including the theaters, restaurants, art galleries, delis and boutiques on a lower level and three upper floors.
In the late 1990s, there was another redevelopment to convert the theaters to Cinemark and turn the atrium area into a two-story restaurant space.