Tivoli Cinemas Ends 36-Year Run in Westport

Jerry Harrington is closing the Tivoli Cinemas after operating the Westport film buff destination 36 years. (Image from 2013 Kickstarter campaign)

By Kevin Collison

Tivoli Cinemas, a destination for regional fans of foreign and independent films since 1983, is closing its doors in Westport this Friday.

“The people of Kansas City have been generous beyond anything I could have imagined,” owner Jerry Harrington said in a statement sent to email subscribers and posted on it Facebook site.

“But, the Tivoli can no longer survive on ticket sales alone and the costs of maintaining operations are insurmountable…

“My greatest thanks goes to all my loyal customers over the years. Many of you I have gotten to know personally, and will miss you all the most.”

Harrington also cited his advancing age and health issues in deciding to close this week.

“A big thanks to my staff who have kept the Tivoli running the last couple of years while i tried to get my health back together,” he said. “They have been especially king, helpful and professional.”

In a brief interview, Harrington said there will be no second act in the upstairs theater space he’s operated at 4050 Pennsylvania Ave. for 36 years.

“As far as I know right now, it’s going dark,” he said.

Adam Tholen of Pulse Development, the landlord of Manor Square where the Tivoli is located, said he had been working with Harrington to try to keep the Tivoli in operation, either under his name or other management.

“We’ve been trying to put another theater to help Jerry, even keeping the name Tivoli,” he said. “We’ve exhausted our effort and there’s nothing in the works.

“We hate to see it. Jerry came to us and told us he was tired.”

The Tivoli originally opened with one screen and expanded to a three-screen complex in 1992.

In 2013, as the movie industry switched from film to digital, the Tivoli was in trouble trying to keep up with the expense involved acquiring digital projection equipment

But a Kickstarter campaign launched by Harrington raised $136,000 to buy the equipment and keep the screens alive.

But now Harrington, and the Tivoli, is at the end of its run.

“My deepest heartfelt thanks and appreciation for allowing me to provide you with some of the best films any theatre could have ever shown,” he said.

The closing of Tivoli leaves the Fine Arts Group, operator of the Glenwood Arts at 95th Street and Mission Road, and The Rio in Old Overland Park as the metro’s primary source for independent and foreign films.

The Tivoli has operated in Westport since 1983. (Image from 2013 Kickstarter campaign)

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  1. Actually, the Screenland Theaters also show foreign and independent films. Plus, the Cinemark Palace on the Plaza has a screen dedicated to “art” films, too.

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