Silver Screens

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Dead And Gone...

When he was Secretary Of Culture, Jack Lang once said: "Not a single movie theater in Paris will close down"; since then, more than one hundred actually did. I've been a moviegoer for twenty years or so, and I knew most of them. I decided to list them, and I indicated what had replaced them.

Austin Presidio Southwood Austin Presidio Southwood. A beautiful two screen movie theater that featured second-run movies for a dollar or two.

1st part: Closed Down Forever

1st Arrondissement
+ Forum Arc-En-Ciel A four-screen movie theater, built by Jean-Pierre Lemoine when the "Forum Des Halles" opened; seven meters (25 ft) screens (several stores, among them Sephora and Nature & Décourverte. Please read Les Halles.

Forum Arc-En-Ciel
Forum Arc-En-Ciel, the largest auditorium

+ Châtelet Victoria a small twin theater, featuring second run movies in their own languages (or V.O. for Original Version) (art galerie).

2nd Arrondissement
+ Argos A single-screen, then twin movie theater, featuring only Terence Hill and Bud Spencer's movies; later renamed Gaîté Boulevard (dance hall).
+ Gaumont Richelieu Five auditoriums, one of them large and nice, the other ones much smaller (La Récré).
+ Rio Opéra Long and narrow theater operated by UGC (restaurant).
+ UGC Opéra No relations with the present UGC Opéra. Seven auditoriums (a record number in Paris at this time), all of them rather small, featuring mostly UGC movies ending their carriers (magasin NewMan).

5th Arrondissement
+ Quintette Five small auditoriums operated by Pathé, built in the 70's. Small screens, below average comfort and decoration; it played Altman's "Quintet"! The two smallest auditoriums closed down first, but it didn't help and the three remaining auditoriums had to close down too (Espace Hérault).
+ Studio Alpha Long and narrow single screen theater operated by Parafrance (restaurant).
+ Studio De La Harpe Mini twin movie theater; in the "largest" auditorium (130 seats), the screen was very small and too high; the smallest auditorium was tiny (restaurant).
+ Cluny Ecoles Twin theater mostly playing Monty Pythons' movies (Danish Center).
+ Cluny Palace This twin theater closed for a while, reopened, and closed again eventually. The "Fnac" (a culture superstores chain) badly wanted this location... (Fnac international bookstore, then Fnac Micro, a computer store).
+ Saint Germain Huchette and Village Two names for a decent twin theater (restaurant).
+ Saint Germain Studio Linked to the Saint Germain Huchette and Village; badly designed, twisted and narrow (Hollywood Canteen Restaurant, a "Happy Days" style restaurant chain).

6th Arrondissement
+ Bonaparte A beautiful 500 seat single-screen movie theater with a tiny balcony (tv studio).
+ Publicis Saint Germain Nice single-screen theater, but the screen was too small; part of the late Drugstore Saint Germain (fashion store).

Egyptian, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. A palace's death is a sad event.
8th Arrondissement
+ Publicis Matignon A beautiful single-screen theater which was part of the drugstore (re-opened and renamed Club Gaumont, but much smaller than before).
+ Monté-Carlo Rather small and ordinary single-screen theater (Virgin Megastore's underground bookstore).
+ UGC Marbeuf Five auditoriums featuring second run movies; one three-hundred-seat large auditorium, the other ones had very small screens.
+ Mercury Beautiful five-hundred seat single-screen theater (my favorite movie theater back then); it will sink with Parafrance and close down a little bit later; usually played American B-movies (the Queen).
+ UGC Biarritz Politics killed this six-auditorium movie theater; because of some new competition law, when UGC took over the Triomphe and the George V, it had to close down the Biarritz; the five smallest auditoriums were closed when the building was remodelled; the largest auditorium (formerly the very beautiful 450 seat France-Elysées) and its twelve meter wide screen, survived a few months under the name "Majestic Bastille" (building remodelled completely and exotic restaurant for easy-to-please suburbians).
+ Royale Disney A medium size (350 seats) single-screen theater only playing Disney movies; badly made, but decorated beautifully (clothes store).
+ Elysées Point Show Triple-screen movie theater, deep in the underground of the "Galerie Point Show", playing movies that ended their careers in bigger movie theaters. Decent sized screens, but one of them was hexagonal! (first French styled fast food restaurant, a big failure, then dance hall).
+ Le Paris One of the most beautiful one-screen movie theaters in Paris (500 seats), large, comfortable, luxurious, stadium seating. Owned by Marcel Dassault, and played the movies he produced most of the time, sometimes for months in front of a scarce audience. Closed down and demolished a year before Dassault's death, we never knew why. What a waste! (Thai Airlines building).
+ UGC Ermitage Another sad story. Formerly a very large single-screen movie theater, divided into a three-screen theater by UGC, one of them large and rather nice with its ten-meter (35 ft) wide screen, but very similar to most large theaters owned by UGC, because of its (white or red) metal-backed seats, its black curtains. Completely remodelled for Douglas Trumbull's Showscan (70mm film played at 60 images/second on a large and curved screen to give an incredible impression of speed and depth (was initially used to shoot some spectacular scenes in Trumbull's Brainstorm); stadium seating appeared, and the screen was replaced by a new one much bigger (about fifteen meter, or 50 ft). But the Showscan doesn't meet a huge success, and regular movies are played again. But the theater's lease came to an end, and wasn't renewed, because fancy stores and offices could raise much more money than a movie theater, however beautiful it was. For a few months, the movie didn't played any big hits anymore (for taxes reasons some said), and was closed down. This scared many, because it made us realize that we could lose major movie theaters such as the UGC Normandie or the Pathé Marignan (now Gaumont Marignan) for the same reasons. (building demolished, only the front was kept. Sephora and luxury hotel).
+ Gaumont Colisée Nice three-screen complex. Theater 1 had 600 seats, a balcony and beautiful curtains; underground, theater 2 was more classical but nice with 400 seats and an eight meter (30 ft) screen, and theater 3 was small. (Building demolished. "Zara" store).

Maisons-Alfort Espace Panorama, formerly Club 123, Maisons-Alfort (near Paris). Three auditoriums, two of them rather nice, and the third one small. Played films that left the Pathé Champigny's screens. Renovation and installation of a large screen couldn't save this theater. Closed for several years, demolished end of 97; today, the appartments building on the bill is almost finished.
9th Arrondissement
+ Gaumont Lumière Beautiful 500-seat single-screen movie theater, taken over by Jean-Pierre Lemoine, who transformed the balcony into two tiny auditoriums. (Fnac Musique, which also uses the space left by a nearby twin porn movie theater, the "Vedettes".
+ Helder Large single-screen movie theater with a balcony, rather luxurious. Once integrated to the present UGC Opéra. (Mc Donald's).
+ Maxeville four, later five screen movie theater, playing popular cinema (action, western, erotism...). One long 500-seat auditorium (but the screen was too small), the smallest auditorium had 35 seats and a two-meter (7 ft!) wide screen. (Hard Rock Café).
+ Bergère Nice 500-seat single screen movie theater. After playing porn movies for quite a while, it was renamed "Bergère-Midi-Mini", in tribute to the famous movie theater that only played fantastic and horror movie, and the same kind of movies were shown.

11th Arrondissement
+ Berry Screen movie theater, playing second run movies in V.O. When it was announced the place would closed down, neighbors' associations fought for years, and eventually lost. I had been there once, and I wasn't impressed, because of bad conditions, especially a weak sound problem the cabin operator was unable to solve. (Still there, for sale).

12nd Arrondissement
+ Daumesnil Large art and research single screen movie theater, the only one in the area, all movies played in their own languages. (demolished, appartments building).

13th Arrondissement
+ Paramount Galaxie Four screen theater, typical of the 70's: all auditoriums almost identical, sober decoration, average seven meter (25 ft) screens (now part of the Gymnase Club, which incidentally left the place a lot like it used to be and even kept the screens in the exercise rooms!)
+ Orient Ciné A three screen movie theater of a different kind, never listed in the newspapers. Located in Paris's Chinatown, it only played Asian movies, mostly action, in their own languages, subtitled in three languages; the French subtitles seemed to be translated from the English by a guy with a dictionary, and they gave us some good laughs. Mixed attendance of Asians and French.

14th Arrondissement
+ PLM Saint-Jacques Below average art and research movie theater with a six meter (20 ft) screen, below the hotel (part of a café).
+ Trois Parnassiens Formerly named the "3 Delambre" and playing porn movies, this art and research theater was operated by the Seven Parnassiens's team. Nice 300-seat theater 1, the small ones not being as nice, especially theater 2 with its small screen much too high (Franprix supermarket).
+ Espace Gaîté Formerly Paramount Gaîté, lost among some ageing hookers, the sex shops and the porn movie theaters, one, then three, then auditoriums, theater 1 had a very big screen; unfortunately, I only happened to visit theater 2 :(

15th Arrondissement
+ Convention Saint-Charles A four-screen miniplex operated by Parafrance, and typical of the 70's. The first time I went there, I was disappointed to be in the smaller auditorium; little did I know! I was in the largest!!! Tiny auditoriums, ridiculously small screens, black, mauve or red carpeting (hardware store).

16th Arrondissement
+ Passy Average sized single-screen movie theater, six meter (20 ft) wide screen. (not related with the present Majestic Passy).

17th Arrondissement
+ Napoléon Replaced the "Royale Disney" when this once single-screen, then four-screen movie theater started playing only Disney movies, each one of them started in the decent theater 1, and going down until ending in the tiny theater 4.

18th Arrondissement

The Trianon+ Trianon Beautiful and huge single-screen movie theaters, with two levels of balconies; just like the Rex, playing a double bill of karate movies for less than ten francs. Hardly maintained, and it smelled terrible. (renovated, but music replaced the movies).

19th Arrondissement
+ Rialto Small art and second run movie theater; movies in their own languages; the projector was behind the transparent screen! (vacant lot).
+ Trois Secrétan A small first run three-screen theater; decent. ("Ed L'Epicier" supermarket).

2nd part: Gone? Not!

These movie theaters are not listed any longer, but they still live. Unfortunately, this part is much shorter than the previous one.

1st Arrondissement
+ Forum Horizon Now part of the UGC Ciné Cité les Halles. Once again, for more details, please read the Les Halles.

15e Arrdt
+ Gaumont Grand Ecran Grenelle Weird. One day, our newspapers list this theater. Everyone is amazed, believing Gaumont secretly built us a brand new movie palace. After a few seconds, we were to find out that Gaumont had renamed the Kinopanorama. Obviously, few enjoyed this, and the 600-seat theater was renamed "Gaumont Kinopanorama".

16th Arrondissement
+ Broadway Large and luxurious single-screen theater, with one of the largest screens in Paris. Replaced for some time by a fur store, which allowed the rich to look like morons. On October 26, 1994, the three-screen Majestic Passy opened; and theater 1 is very nice, with its fifteen meter (50 ft) wide screen, and was inaugurated with Tarentino's Pulp Fiction.


That is it for now. Sad, right? Eighty-one of all the auditoriums I saw movies in disappeared, almost a third of the number of screens today. And a lot more I've never seen. Theaters in which thousands were thrilled or fell asleep, depending on the movies. But the trend to closed theaters by the dozen came to a halt. Hopefully, each and every-one of today's movie theaters will still be open in ten years, and many will be remodelled, the only way for them to survive...

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