As of 18th April 2013, the Louxor Cinema, not too far from the Gare du Nord in Paris, reopened after having been closed as a cinema since 1983. The Egyptian decor is looking as sumptuous as expected and there’s a great choice of smaller, independent films to choose from.
This video on the reopening is in French, but even if you’re not so clued up on French, there’s some great architectural detail to see:
Egypt was all the rage when the Louxor – Palais de Cinema, flagship of the Pathe cinema chain was opened in October 1921 in the Barbès district of Paris. The Egyptianised art deco design of it, the creation of architect Henry Zipcy, was inspired by the film Cleopatra, a 1917 blockbuster starring the lucious Theda Bara. Unfortunately this film is, for the moment at least, lost – the last known remaining copies of it destroyed by fire.
The interior of the cinema included Egyptian-style seating, a blue ceiling to depict the sky, Egyptian-inspired murals, hieroglyphs and papyrus columns. There was an orchestra pit and pipe organ. The facade, thankfully protected, can still be seen on this building which sits opposite the bargain clothes chain Tati at the Barbès-Rochechouart metro stop in a rough and ready part of town. Blue, gold and black columns and scarabs decorate the outside but since the 1980s much of it was covered in posters advertising the latest music gigs.
The decline of the Louxor began in the mid-1950s when cinema audience numbers were in decline worldwide, largely due to the onslaught of television. By the 1970s, mainly Indian and Arab films were being shown to a growing immigrant population. The building ceased to function as a cinema when it was sold to the Tati chain in 1983. Thankfully an attempt by this company to pull it down and erect a clothing store failed, and it was briefly a nightclub in the late 1980s. In 1990 the Louxor closed and remained closed until purchased by the City of Paris in 2003.
The future is looking great for the art deco cinema and its restoration is part of the ongoing work to regenerate this area of Paris. Work has started on the renovation, and there are plans to re-open it in 2013
The Louxor re-opens!
Update: as you read at the top of this article, the grand Egyptian picturehouse re-opened on 18th April 2013. There are now three screens and much of the original Egyptian decoration has been restored. There’s also a cafe, which, on my first visit, appears to need more experienced staff and a bit of organisation.
The interior is a quality piece of work and beautifully done. Here’s an image from the Mairie de Paris:
The other screening rooms don’t have the Egyptian detailing but they’ve been decorated very tastefully and quality materials have been used.
Hip hip hooray to a grand old picturehouse!
Nos Cinemas de Quartier exhibition at the 18th arrondissement town hall
Quirky Travel Cinema posts
The Grand Rex is another cinematic gem in Paris – here’s QT’s Le Grand Rex Cinema post.
And you can take a tour behind the scenes. Here’s the story of my Etoiles de Grand Rex backstage trip