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Arizona's Old West movie studio to reopen after closing during pandemic

Old Tucson Studios has been used to film dozens of films and TV shows since the 1940s. The tourist attraction is expected to reopen soon under a new operator.

TUCSON, Ariz. — A new operating agreement for Old Tucson Studios was finalized Tuesday at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting.

On Sept. 14, 2020, Old Tucson Studios swung its doors shut after the previous leaseholder decided to terminate their lease due to the impacts of COVID-19, according to officials. 

Pima County recently laid out its plans for the historic movie studio located at 201 Kinney Rd. In a memo, county officials confirmed its recommendation for American Heritage Railways to be awarded the Old Tucson Studio lease.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an agreement with the company as the new operator of Old Tucson Studios.

“Old Tucson Studios has so much rich history that needs to be preserved and shared with the world,” said John Harper, Chief Operating Officer of Old Tucson Entertainment. “We look forward to working with production companies to provide a real western town experience in an amazing location that has all the characteristics any company is looking for.”

American Heritage Railways was founded in 1998 and it operates several railways in the U.S., including the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

County officials say the first major event planned for the studios is the Halloween attraction “Night Fall,” followed by a Christmas event.

Several classic westerns have been filmed at the Tucson property since it was built in the late 1930s, including "3:10 to Yuma" and "Rio Bravo." 

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