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Toulouse City

Toulouse, also known as "La Ville Rose" because most of its buildings are made of bricks, is the fourth biggest city in France. The city has a decent number of movie theaters. During the 80's, all but the cinemas located in the center closed down, places like the Rex (a twin art and research movie theater, movies in their own languages -once again V.O. for original version - and different movies at every show), and the Saint-Agne (large single-screen movie theater with a sixteen meter - 50 ft -wide screen), playing recent and older movies in V.O.

Around the same time, the Club, place Wilson, alsol closed down. This triple-screen movie theater, with small to medium aditoriums, ended its life playing movies either in V.O. or V.F. (French version). It has now been replaced by a restaurant.

The UGC Variétés, a former theater, had six, then eight auditoriums. The largest one, at the top end of the building, offered five hundred seats. Its nine meter (30 ft) screen was too small for the rather big volume; it is now much larger, and the auditorium got the "UGC Prestige" label. The other auditoriums are less ordinary. Noon shows are cheaper. The complex doesn't seem to suffer a lot from the new multiplexes.
UGC Variétés UGC Variétés

The UGC Variétés, old (left) et new look (right)

UGC also operated a twin theater in the upper levels of the "Centre Commercial" (shopping center) Wilson, the Concorde with its nice and comfortable auditoriums. Its movies, all in V.F., had often left the Variétés' screens. Later, it played porn movies, before closing down.

Another complex didn't live to see the end of the 80's, the Trianon, a four-screen theater, formerly a huge single-screen theater with two levels of balconies. The largest auditorium was the largest one in the city (700 seats), with a balcony. The three other auditoriums (one small, two medium) were located in the basement, replacing the old theater's orchestra. The cinema was operated by Parafrance, and it only played movies dubbed in French..

The Trianon The Rio
The Trianon. On the front, cement only covered the bricks, like they often did in Toulouse. Today, the building is still there, but the bricks, so typical or the region, are showing again. The Rio; less impressive than the Trianon, but it was managed to survive.
The other cinema operated by Parafrance was near Place Wilson: the Rio, divided into three auditoriums. The largest one (about 300 seats) was the old theater's orchestra; the eight meter (28 ft) wide screen was too high, the two smaller auditoriums replaced the former balcony. It often played the same movies as the Trianon, but in V.O. It has become an art and research movie theater successfully operated by Utopia.


Art and research in V.O. again, but a bit further away from the center, at the 'ABC a nice triple-screen cinema, rue Saint-Bernard; of all the first-run movie theaters in town, it was the first one to play movies in their own languages. Today, the ABC seems to be suffering from the Utopia's competition, located better and maybe more dynamic.

Not as many art movies were being played at the Zig-Zag, a very comfortable 300-seat single screen cinema, right next to Place Wilson; it was Toulouse's only porn cinema, and offered two movies for the price of one. For a while, regular movies were played in V.O., but this did not work very well, and porn movies were played again. It has now become a sex-shop.

The Gaumont Wilson, formerly Gaumont Palace, then just Gaumont, use to be a huge single-screen movie theater, where the screen was fifty meters (170 ft) away from the screen. The auditorium was divided into five theaters. Theater 2 was a large stadium-seating auditorium with 500 seats and a ten meter (35 ft) wide screen. After the movie, endless stairs brought you down to the street level. One level below, Theater 1 was similar, but it was almost flat, and its screen was a bit too high. Theater 4 had 250 seats, but the projection booth was not located in the center of the back wall, and the screen was slightly turned sideways... Theater 3 was rather small, and theater 5 was very small. It was the seventies, and the main colors were brown and green.

But mini-auditoriums are still popular among theater operators, and in 1985, theater 1 is divided again into four no-thrills auditoriums. Later, large theaters became fashionable again, and in October 1988, theater 2 got a new 16 meter (50 ft) panoramic screen, and was given the "Gaumontrama" label. I attended one of the first shows; in the afternoon, it was possible to see some sun through the roof! Then Gaumont realized the complex had suffered too many small changes, and took the wise decision to remodel everything but theater 2.

Gaumont Wilson, theater 2

Today, the Gaumont Wilson has eight screens, five to sixteen meters wide. Most movies are dubbed in French, but some are played in V.O. After the American A.M.C. was denied the authorization to build a huge multiplex in the suburbs, Gaumont confirmed its decision to buy a former school adjacent to its building, and to use the volume to remodel once again its complex, this time into a brand new multiplex. At the same time, it closed down its other complex, the "Nouveautés". Let's hope this multiplex will really be state of the art (perfect viewing conditions, giant screens in every auditoriums for instance), like its Gaumont Labège. It is also necessary to play most, if not every movie, in V.O., so that the city will have something the suburbs don't have.

The "Nouveautés", operated by Pathé (left) and Gaumont (right)

below, the theater 1

Last complex downtown, the Nouveautés, a seven-screen complex operated by Pathé, then Gaumont. Theater 1 could accomodate up to 500 viewers; it is comfortable, all red, its screen is ten meters wide, and offers THX sound. But the other auditoriums are much smaller, and viewing conditions are far from perfect. Most movies are played in V.F., some in V.O. In may 1998, when A.M.C.'s project is dismissed, Gaumont announces its new multiplex Place Wilson, and that it will close down the Nouveautés as early as May 31. Toulouse lost seven screens, and will regain them when the multiplex is done. I really think the Nouveautés could be bought by some independant and re-open after some thorough remodelling, and of course play movies in their original languages. I really hate to see a cinema close down.

A last note about the center of Toulouse: a beautiful cinematheque was opened in a very old movie theater.

The suburbs

Two multiplexes recently opened in the sububs. The Mega CGR and its twelve screens opened in Blagnac, near Toulouse's airport; and the Gaumont Labège and its sixteen auditoriums, giant screens and stadium seating in all auditoriums, one of the biggest cinemas in France. The parking lot is huge, so is the lobby, which offers a large concession stand and a bar. Two of the auditoriums have the Gaumontrama label, with their 20 m + (70 ft) screens. The smaller screens are only ten meters wide, but they are higher than the normal, and offer very large images as long as the movie are not in wide screen; incidentally, they are similar to the small auditoriums in other Gaumont multiplexes. The main color is red, digital sound is offered, and viewing conditions are perfect, as long as you don't mind watching movies dubbed in French.

The Gaumont Labège

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