After being closed for over a year due to COVID-19, The Loft Cinema reopened its doors to the city of Tucson on Friday, May 7. With more Americans vaccinated and positive COVID-19 tests going down, the leaders of The Loft Cinema made the decision they could reopen.
Jeff Yanc, the program director of The Loft Cinema, explained how the reopening process took a lot of patience.
“Unlike a lot of theaters, we never reopened,” Yanc said. “A lot of theaters reopened and then had to reclose. We were just taking it very slowly and carefully because we never wanted to have to reclose because it is very difficult staffing, then letting them go and then bringing them back. We waited until it was the right time for us.”
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Although the cinema is reopening indoor public screenings, it will still look different from the last time people viewed films there.
“We are starting by opening just our main auditorium which is our 370-seat venue,” Yanc said. “We are going to have reduced showtimes, so there will be one matinee and one primetime ending show to give [our staff] time to clean the theater.”
For people who did not feel ready to sit indoors with other members of the public, Yanc said the cinema provided opportunities for private viewings.
“Our other two screens will be used as private rental spaces,” Yanc said. “There will be different audiences coming in and out of the theater and we do not want them to cross in the lobby, so we will be staggering showtimes. That is how it is going to look for a while.”
While the atmosphere may be different, general manager Candace Ripley wanted to assure patrons that the content will remain top tier.
“You will see movies here that you will not be able to see in other theaters,” Ripley said. “We are opening with great documentaries about ‘Sesame Street’ and truffle hunters in Italy.”
The content produced by the theater has also caught the eyes of folks from other parts of the country.
“I talked to a customer today who said he was from New York,” Ripley said. “He said even in New York, you cannot find movies with the kind of programing that we have.”
There was a positive buzz around The Loft Cinema upon its reopening. Fans and long time supporters of The Loft Cinema were excited they finally can return to the theater, including Tucson native Nikki Sanchez. Sanchez agreed that staying closed was the best decision The Loft Cinema made, even though she missed the theater.
“I think they really care about the community,” Sanchez said. “When the other theaters were opening, I felt like it was too soon. Once I heard the Loft was opening it made me feel that slowly but surely, we were getting back to normal. I listen to the news, but I felt safer when it was the Loft who was saying it was safe to go back to the theater.”
When Sanchez can return to The Loft Cinema, the first thing she said she wants to do is sing.
“My favorite programming is the sing-a-longs that we have,” Sanchez said. “They show a movie and during all the songs they put the lyrics on the bottom, and they really encourage you to sing out loud, even if you are a horrible singer. People also come in costume to dance.”
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The Loft Cinema also provided excellent customer service that Sanchez said was so unique, it was hard to find it at any other theater.
“I really learned a lot from the employees, or as we call the ‘Lofties,’” Sanchez said. “They have so much information when it comes to all the different film genres. I can have a conversation with anybody at the theater about certain films and directors. They give me a different perspective on stuff that I never thought of before. You are not going to get that at Harkins or Cinemark. It is that one-on-one where you can tell that the employees really care about what [the theater] is showing.”
For information on showtimes, tickets and other information about The Loft Cinema, visit their website at loftcinema.org.
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