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The Paramount Opéra

One Of The Last Giants (2/2)

1. Yesterday
2. Today

Paramount Opéra - the front

Paramount Opéra - the front
The latest major remodelling happened in 1995 when theaters 2 and 4 were torn down. The new theater 4 was rebuilt at the back of the previous auditoriums (its screens being located at the left of the building). After walking along theater 4, the audience enters brand new theater 2, which has a rather big volume (the front part of the 1,100 seat theater 2).

The complex is among the most successful in Paris. The nearby and very famous Grand Rex is its main competitor.

Above and below, theater 3, dressed, and naked during remodelling...
Paramount Opéra - the foyer The largest auditorium is now theater 3, which used to be the second largest, as it often happened when auditoriums were divided several times; it is located at the very top of the building. Two escalators (and an elevator for handicapped people) lead to the foyer (left picture). It can accomodate up to 800, which makes it the second largest auditorium in Paris (behind the Grand Rex, of course, and along with the largest auditorium of the UGC Normandie (which looks a lot like it), and the largest auditorium of the Bretagne.

When the show starts, the big curtain goes up, and a slightly curved 54ft wide screen appeared; a huge wall was built behind it to improve the sound. There are 108 feet between the screen and the projector, which uses 7kw lightbulbs. The theater is equipped with Dolby SRD, DTS, and the new Dolby EX (THX was even considered for a while). It is possible to play 70mm (if one day they become available again in France). In the programs, the auditorium is named "très grande salle panoramique".

theater 2 is the second largest in the complex. It offers 610 seats on two levels; it has stadium seating style at the balcony, and a slight slope at the orchestra. It has the same screen as theater 3 (slightly curved, 54ft wide), and the projector also uses 7kw lightbulbs. The screen is hidden behind a beautiful and huge red curtain which weighs a ton (litterally, it weighs one metric ton!). It is a beautiful all-red auditorium (except for the grey seats, which could look brighter), but our legs could use more room.

The auditorium is almost wider as it is long, its proportions are excellent when you like huge pictures. Viewing conditions are great at the balcony, but it is closed most of the time. Theater 2 is also equipped with SRD, DTS and Dolby EX.

In the basement, theater 1 (left and below) is round (that is why it is called "salle circulaire panoramique"). It has the same ceiling at the UGC Normandie. It has 396 seats. The curved screen is 35ft wide. (It was stolen one night; the same day, a screen was brought from a nearby theater, which had just got a brand new screen).

Theater 4 (below) is less impressive. Its 25ft wide should be larger (which is impossible). It has 230 seats, and is equipped with SRD and DTS (Dolby EX should is coming soon).

Theaters 5 and 6 are located at the end of the building. Theater 6 is on the second floor; it looks nice, all red. It has 124 seats, an 18ft screen, and Dolby SRD sound. In the basement, theater 5 is red with blue seats. It is a bit smaller (96 seats, 16 ft screen, Dolby SR).

Below, theater 6

Below, theater 5

The two escalators leading to large theater 3 also lead to tiny theater 7. A door open on a staircase, which goes up inside the auditorium. It is the smallest, and it's not my favorite. It has 92 seats, a 15ft screen, and Dolby SR.

During the 80s, the Paramount played some movies in their own languages ("My Fair Lady" in 70mm, "U2 Rattle And Hum"...), but it didn't meet a huge success. Today, the cinemas mostly plays American major movies (all dubbed in French), and some French movies.

Paramount Opéra - the box-office
The box-office, at the entrance of the lobby

The Paramount Opéra ranks fourth among best ticket sellers (behind the UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles and Bercy, the Gaumont Parnasse and the Pathé Wepler, and ahead of the Rex). 900,000 persons see a movie at the Paramount every year. But this number is slighty going down this year, like in most complexes in Paris. Because of traffic jams and parking problems, suburbians tend to go to the new multiplexes built near Paris near the malls. The Paramount is fighting to keep ahead. The construction of theater 2 and the equipment in Dolby EX in three auditoriums prove it. And more remodelling could be on the way.

Paramount Opéra - la cabine de projection
At the very top of the building, the projection booth is still there, now used by theater 3.

Today, the beautiful building, also used by the distributor U.I.P., is listed as a historic monument.

You've seen the pictures; now, see the video...

Many thanks to Guy Didier and his employees for their help and patience.

Old pictures and programs used with kind permission of Paramount France.
Other pictures: © Silver Screens 1999

Paramount Opéra
2, Boulevard des Capucines
75009 Paris
Métro: Opéra

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