New Loft Theatre

504 N. Fremont Avenue,
Tucson, AZ 85719

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Playbox Theatre, Loft Theatre

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May 1992 aerial view

The New Loft Theatre was an independent theatre that stood at 504 N. Fremont Avenue near the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.

It opened as a legitimate theatre as the Play Box Theatre on November 19, 1959. It became the Loft Theatre on October 17, 1963, operating a movie theatre. It became the New Loft Theatre in August 1972 after it switched to independent and art films. The property was bought by the University in the late-1980’s and apparently the building that housed the theatre was demolished October 24, 1997 to make way for a parking structure.

Not to be confused with the Loft Cinema (formerly known as Showcase 1 & 2 at 3233 E. Speedway Boulevard in Tucson.

Contributed by Edward Cook

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

popvoid on January 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm

The Loft was an interesting little theater. It alternated between sexploitation and arthouse films, but it didn’t segregate the trailer screenings to match the audiences. I went here to see a Joseph Strick double bill (ULYSSES and THE BALCONY) and they showed the trailer for LOVE CAMP SEVEN.

Originalname37 on February 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

I used to go to the New Loft when I was in high school and college. They were operating until at least 1990. In addition to the art pics, in the ‘80s they also had an amazing midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show.

dallasmovietheaters on July 1, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Opened as the Play Box on November 19, 1959 doing legit theater with its first performance of “The Silver Whistle,” a community theater presentation and seems to have ended during its 1962/63 season. The Art Theater Guild Circuit of Scottsdale which was operating the Park Theater at the time spent $10,000 remodeling the former Play Box. On October 17, 1963, the theater reopens as “The Loft” and has its first film, “Promises, Promises” with Jayne Mansfield. The 153-seat auditorium used “European style” floor design with the main floor sloping up to the screen.

The theater began as an art house catering only to those aged 18 and above. Controversy over the potentially obscene film, “The Starlet,” led to a huge line and 30 minute wait to see the film in August of 1969. From that period in 1969 until 1972, the Loft drifted into porno chic and away from traditional arthouse cinema. And Judge Richard O. Roylston ruled that “Starlet” was not obscene. The biggest error made by The Loft was when “Deep Throat” played on a short-run and was returned to the distributor. The film caught fire and The Loft had to wait months for a print causing a big loss of potential revenue.

The Loft would change in 1972. Beginning at the end of August 1972, the theater is advertised as “The New Loft” still remaining at the original location but reverting to art films for an adult audience. The porno chic was gone. This is when the clock starts ticking for the current lineage of the Loft on Speedway which states that it’s been showing films “since 1972.” The New Loft would continue on Fremont Ave. until 1991 as a single-screen arthouse and ran midnight cult shows including “Rocky Horror Picture Show” which drew customers from the nearby University of Arizona campus. The New Loft would become The New New Loft (though just called The Loft) moving to its new location on East Speedway Boulevard in 1992. Ten years later, it would become a non-profit membership art house still called The Loft. The University of Arizona took on the old New Loft on Fremont and used it for classes. On October 24, 1997, the theater turned classroom space was demolished making the site, The former old New Loft.

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