Film premieres in Paris – Le Grand Rex

Why are film premieres so different in France to the rest of the world?

When distributors are organising film premieres, they obviously start planning events in LA for the American market and London regarding the English one. But what about the rest of the world? What about Europe? Some of them take place in Berlin or in Madrid… On the other hand, thanks to one man, France is also on the map, and is taking these events to another level! To apprehend it better, we had the privilege to chat with Alexandre Hellman, owner of the Grand Rex!

If you are a film enthusiast and you wonder where the best place is to watch a film in Paris, don’t look any further, you should consider the Grand Rex as a solid option, undoubtably the first. This one-of-a-kind theatre shines thanks to its history and its events.

But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane… Constructed in 1932, the Grand Rex is the largest great theatre built between the 1920s and 1940s of all. Its founder, Jacques Haïk wanted it to be the most extravagant and beautiful movie theatre in Europe. One can only acknowledge that it’s quite a success. Listed as a French historical monument since October 1981, its main theatre, the Grand Salle, can seat up to 2,700 people spread over three levels (orchestra, mezzanine, and balcony) and boasts a 26m wide 16m high screen! The décor mixes Italian balconies and statues in a truly wonderful manner. Louis Lumière himself was fascinated the first time he saw it, for its official opening on the 8th of December 1932. In 1947, Jean Hellman took charge of this house an made it a renowned cinema. Until this day, it remains a family business, offering a bit of Hollywood-style movie magic to French People and, increasingly, tourists.

As Alexandre Hellman likes to say, his grandfather bought the cinema, his dad developed it, and now, his mission is to take this already worldwide known place to another level. After a couple of years battling with distributors, Mr Hellman finally managed to put the Grand Rex on the film premieres map.

Unlike in the US or the UK, the concept is more fans driven. In London, studios and distributors are going crazy; Leicester square is the best place for them to organize premieres. Being a walking area, their imagination is almost there only limit as it comes to create décors or reproducing the set! If you add a 20 meters long red carpet, a brilliant host (our favourite being Craig Stevens) and hundreds of fans screaming you have the perfect recipe for an incredible premiere. Distributors are loving it, talents spend their time signing autographs, posing in front of the photocell, and making speeches on stage. You’ve got the press happy; you’ve got the celebrities happy; everyone is happy!

Really? What about the fans? They all spend hours and hours outside, hoping to have a glimpse of their favourite movie star and, if they are lucky enough, to take a selfie with them or get their autograph. Alexandre Hellmann decided to go the other way around. His sole goal is to please the fans!

First difference: to enter the cinema during a premiere in the US or the UK, you need to be invited! In France, everyone can go, you just need to be super quick and buy your ticket as soon as they are released for a cost between 15 and 30 euros. For that price you will access the cinema, watch the film, enjoy the show and be in the same room as the Talents siting in one of the many seats. As Mr Hellmann says, the show is inside.

We had the chance to participate to a couple of premieres at The Grand Rex and the atmosphere is like nowhere else on this planet. Can you imagine 2700 people clapping at the same time? The show is unique each time, dancers, performers, singers, will entertain the audience; Dwayne Johnson himself said that he was impressed by the room, the audience, and the ambiance during the Jumanji premiere.

A symbol of French History

What France endures; the Grand Rex endures it as well! In the 1940s, during the Nazi Occupation, the Grand Rex is occupied and became a Soldatenkino to keep the troupes entertained. It is even the target of bombings…

The cinema eventually reopens in 1944 after the Liberation of Paris to screen an American movie while gums are offered during the intermission. Soon after, the Grand Rex is closed once again to welcome French war prisoners.

From Elisabeth Taylor to The big Blue

During its 90 years of existence, the Grand Rex have seen lots a people and lots of events, some of them have a special place. One of the first would probably be on May 22nd, 1946, with the first screening of a Disney cartoon: Pinocchio. Not 20 years later, in 1963, the whole of Paris took the metro to Cleopatra’s preview in the presence of Elisabeth Taylor

In 1988, the Grand Rex is equipped with the biggest screen in France, ‘Le Grand Large’: on a base of 25 meters, it is 12 meters high. Luc Besson’s The Big Blue was the first film to be shown on the 280 square metre mega screen. The film, with months of success, managed to reach the record of more than 700,000 tickets during its screening.

While the royal preview of James Bond’s 21st film took place in London on November 14th 2006, it was at the Grand Rex in Paris that the 2,680 spectators of the French preview of Casino Royale were able to attend. The Grand Rex, redecorated for the occasion, welcomed many personalities. Not only producers Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, the director of the film Martin Campbell, the James Bond Girls, Eva Green (Vesper Lynd) and Caterina Murino (Solange) but also Sébastien Foucan (Mollaka) and of course the highly anticipated Daniel Craig.

From Elisabeth Taylor to The big Blue

During its 90 years of existence, the Grand Rex have seen lots a people and lots of events, some of them have a special place. One of the first would probably be on May 22nd, 1946, with the first screening of a Disney cartoon: Pinocchio. Not 20 years later, in 1963, the whole of Paris took the metro to Cleopatra’s preview in the presence of Elisabeth Taylor

In 1988, the Grand Rex is equipped with the biggest screen in France, ‘Le Grand Large’: on a base of 25 meters, it is 12 meters high. Luc Besson’s The Big Blue was the first film to be shown on the 280 square metre mega screen. The film, with months of success, managed to reach the record of more than 700,000 tickets during its screening.

While the royal preview of James Bond’s 21st film took place in London on November 14th 2006, it was at the Grand Rex in Paris that the 2,680 spectators of the French preview of Casino Royale were able to attend. The Grand Rex, redecorated for the occasion, welcomed many personalities. Not only producers Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, the director of the film Martin Campbell, the James Bond Girls, Eva Green (Vesper Lynd) and Caterina Murino (Solange) but also Sébastien Foucan (Mollaka) and of course the highly anticipated Daniel Craig.

More than a cinema…

  • The Grand Rex is very well known for being a cinema, but it is a place to entertain yourself and learn as well!
  • A nightclub is located under the cinema. With its ultra-powerful sound system, Rex club is a melting pot of the French techno scene and often welcomes the greatest names of electro music!
  • If you want to be part of the best film marathon in the country, this is the place for you! From Harry Potter to Back to the Future, all the marathons are covered.
  • You can also let yourself be guided by “les Etoiles du Rex” (the Stars of the Rex) and explore backstage. This interactive route will guide you behind the giant screen in a panoramic elevator; you will discover a former projection room, and even be invited to put your voice onto a film extract. To book your tickets: https://www.legrandrex.com/rexstudios
  • Last addition to this already incredible list! The fun escape game! https://www.legrandrex.com/escape-game

Immerse yourself with a tour guide to learn more about the history of The Grand Rex.

You want to try something different, The Grand Rex launched their very own escape game!

“Les Etoiles du Rex” (the Stars of the Rex) and explore the cinema backstage

Estelle
Author: Estelle

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