In the South of Paris, in the shadow of the "Tour Montparnasse", the fourteenth arrondissement is a major movie theater area. Most theaters are located in the Montparnasse and the Alésia areas.
Traditional theaters and a multiplex can be found there. In Montparnasse, most of the moviegoers are senior citizens in the afternoon and teenagers from the high schools nearby; in Alésia, the audience is local or comes from the towns South of Paris.
The beautiful front of the Miramar can be seen when exiting the subway station. This three-screen complex is part of the Rytman chain, very important in the area. The two largest auditoriums were created from the division of the former 1000-seat auditorium. Like the other Rytman theaters in Montparnasse, the auditoriums had a clock on a wall (so that viewers wouldn't miss their trains?), and the constant clicking every minute bothered the audience; the clocks were removed in the late 80s.
The theater has little to do with look-alike multiplexes. A large marble staircase, along with its shiny banisters, leads to theaters 2 and 3.
Located behind the box office, theater 1 (below) replaces the orchestra of the old auditorium. It has a very decent volume, a 43ft screen covered by a curtain, and 550 velvet seats. The sound is digital, both Dolby SRD and DTS. There is a problem with the vibrations from the subway, which runs right below the auditorium.
On the second floor, theater 2 (below) replaces the former balcony. It has 320 seats; viewing conditions are correct, but the 25ft screen is a bit too small for the auditorium. It is equipped with Dolby SR.|
|Theater 3 is located at the top of the building; it replaces a former apartment, and is a long corridor. It is one of the last auditoriums in Paris with a transparent screen, behind which is the projection booth. The screen is 14ft wide, and the sound is mono; the auditorium is far from pleasant and would deserve remodelling; it has 93 seats.|
The Paramount Montparnasse / The Gaumont Parnasse (1)
The Paramount Montparnasse opened its two auditoriums in 1973 in a shopping mall. As nearby shops were bought, the cinema grew bigger and became a seven-screen complex. The box office was located at the end of a long corridor, where metal bars separated the waiting lines. In theater 1 (the only one with a large volume, and 500 seats), a metal curtain covered the 35ft screen.
Theater 2 was right next, it offered 200 seats and a decent 24ft screen.
Behind the box office, a staircase lead to the basement and theater 3 (about 150 seats and a 20ft screen which was a bit small).
Theaters 4 and 5 were located at the end of the main corridor, after the box office. They had 120 and 80 seats, and 20 and 15ft screens.
I have never seen theaters 6 and 7; they both had about 50 seats and were said to be ridiculously small. Gaumont closed them as it took over the theater.
The Paramount Montparnasse only played movies dubbed in French (distributed by Parafrance), except for Woody Allen movies, which were played in two auditoriums, one dubbed in French and one in English with French subtitles.
In 1986, when Parafrance bankrupted, Gaumont bought the complex and renvonated it; the largest auditorium got a 45ft curved screen and the Gaumontrama label; it even played 70mm (Apocalypse Now in 87). The two largest auditoriums were equipped with Dolby Stereo sound. The theater played blockbusters, most in their original languages, some dubbed in French, and some art movies. The theater closed during 1995 to make way to the Gaumont Parnasse multiplex. The former entrance became a video store, but outside posters still advertise for the theater. (below).
The Montparnasse Pathé
The Montparnasse Pathé,which replaced a former live theater, was a large single screen theater; it had a balcony and more than one thousand seats.
In 1974, a five-screen movie theater replaced the old auditorium.
Left, the entrance boulevard du Montparnasse|
The new auditoriums were modern and the complex rated above average.
Located behind theater 1, theater 5, with its 15ft screen and its 100 seats, was not very remarkable.
Later, a sixth auditorium was built on the first floor behind the box office. The projection booth was not tall enough, and a periscope had to be used for the projection; scope projection never was satisfying (this was said by former projectionists).
This complex was very successful with popular movies (such as the Jean-Paul Belmondo movies, or Raiders Of The Lost Ark); for these movies, it wasn't uncommon to wait an hour in line.|
The theater's last moment of glory was when it played The Abbyss in 70mm (below); Aliens was also played in 70mm.
At the top of the building, there was a luxurious appartment, where Pathé's general manager lived, and a garden.
But Gaumont decided to join the destinies of the Montparnasse and the Gaumont Parnasse, which will be united to become the first multiplex on the left bank, the Gaumont Parnasse.
Early 1995, the Montparnasse (below) closed down to be demolished.
Photo Credits :
Gaumont Parnasse front: J.-C. Doerr