Paris Theatre

205-207 Liverpool Street,
Sydney, NSW 2000

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Paris Theatre

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The Paris Theatre in downtown Sydney started its life as the Australian Picture Palace when it opened on 7th January 1916.

In 1935, the theatre was renovated and renamed the Tatler Theatre. The theatre then switched to showing second or third run films on a weekly basis. In 1943, Warner Bros. and Hoyts could not agree on contract terms and Warners amassed a large stockpile of unreleased films. A company known as ‘Austral American Productions’ came to an exclusive arrangment with Warner Bros. to release Warner films.

The Tatler Theatre re-opened as a first run theater on August 5, 1943, with the film “They Died with their Boots On” starring Australia’s Errol Flynn. Just three years later, the theatre switched formats once again; this time to revival screenings. Patronage was declining, so, in 1949, another change brought ‘live’ revue acts on stage, with two shows a day. Unable to find an audience, the Tatler Theatre closed for good a year later, in 1950.

In 1952, the thearer was purchased by the Hoyts Theatres circuit, refurbished, and renamed the Park Theatre. In 1954, it became the Paris Theatre and continued under that name until Hoyts left the theatre in 1977, after opening their new seven-cinema complex three blocks away in George Street, Sydney.

After Hoyts vacated, the theatre continued to operate for a few years showing films and ‘live’ theatre before it closed and was eventually demolished.

Today, the corner site is now a towering apartment building, housing not only the YMCA, but a Mormon Chapel as well. This spot, overlooking beautiful Hyde Park, is considered to be one of the best real estate locations in Sydney.

Contributed by John Adey

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

unknown
unknown on November 1, 2003 at 8:42 am

Hello,
Well done on your Cinema Treasures.
I was very please to see the information on the Paris Theatre as I have been trying to track down the Picture Palace Theatre for my research in my family tree and could never find it until now.

My Great Great Grandfather was the only Celebrated Irish Piper in Australia in 1863, with his brother they were Entertainers/Actors/ musicions and had played in the Picture Palace and of course elsewhere in Australia.

It has pleased me to no-ends to have read your web page, and now I can prove that there was a place called the Picture Palace and can add it to my research and place the picture of my ancestor with his bag pipes in a family story.
Would you know how I can find early stage plays show’s that were played between 1863 to 1920 in Australia.

I know his brother’s stage name and I have a piece of info on one of their performances when they came to Australia, as the add was placed in a newspaper in Melbourne in 1863.
As for anymore on there stage plays I just dont know where to look.
Can you please guide me in the right direction.
Thankyou for enjoyable web page to browse.
K.

PAULB
PAULB on January 5, 2004 at 3:35 am

From 1954-77 The Paris was a very well run first release operation by Hoyts with TODD-AO installation as part of its celebrated profile. It premiered AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, CAN CAN, THE ALAMO, MAGNIFICENT MEN IN FLYING MACHINES and a long moveover of SOUND OF MUSIC. Having 70mm meant all types of roadshow releases appeared, even scary the 1973 musical LOST HORIZON. I last went there in 1975 and saw SHAMPOO, and the Legend Of hell House (!)
Hoyts closed all their best cinemas, city and suburbs in a binge during 1977 after they opened the George Street City concrete box multiplex. The shuttered cinemas like the Mayfair, Town, Century and in the subs at Chatswood and Bondi Jct were their longest serving and best designed and operated cinemas – all deco and all renovated even as late as 1973. Madness.
Now, of course all they are gone and the George St horror remains. The Paris was a long and rather narrow, but the celebrated Walter Burly Griffin design was such a feature and a success it assisted they eye to see the huge floating screen. Not even being a WB Griffin design could save it from the stupidity of 70s demolition. Today a big apartment block is there.

waynesw
waynesw on January 22, 2005 at 7:07 am

I remember seeing Davy Crockett with my Dad way back in the 50s at the Paris. later I can remember seeing Tom Jones ther ein the 60s when I was a teenager.

The Paris stopped being a movie house and became, briefly, a live theatre before it disappeared. I saw a Saturday matinee of a tw0-hander called Songs from Sideshwow Alley with Robyn Archer and Maggie Kirkpatirck. I think there were only 5 or 6 of us in the audience. The show was about nostalgia for the old days of Sidenshow Alley at the royal Easter Show and similar shows around the country. Now the Paris itself is part of the nostalgia.

AnthonyMe
AnthonyMe on April 27, 2009 at 9:47 am

Although I had been to numerous other Sydney theatres and drive-ins, the Paris holds a special place in my heart. Living way out in the suburbs, as a boy, when I got my very first job delivering papers for the local newsagent, I spent my first week’s pay on a trip to the movies in the city. It was also my first time going out somewhere without adult supervision. I saw a few James Bond double-features at the Paris. I vividly remember trailers for the Japanese film “The Bullet Train” and a pirate movie starring Robert Shaw. This would have 1976, so not too long before it ceased showing movies.

My Dad was a huge movie buff and amateur filmmaker, so he took me to movies from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper… my earliest memory at a huge theatre being a family film of some description late 1967. I’m so grateful to have lived at a time when cinema going was so much more of an event — a huge night out.

Ian Rochford
Ian Rochford on July 2, 2010 at 7:06 am

We were making short films in the 70s, and we shot some scenes for one in the Paris. At the time, it had been painted throughout by Martin Sharpe for whatever live show was on (we filmed their backdrop as well).

During the shoot I photographed the interior of the theatre, including the architecture and lights. I still have the negs and a pile of black and white 6x10 prints. Do you know if they’d be of any interest to anyone?

JohnHolloway
JohnHolloway on July 2, 2010 at 10:27 am

Hi Ian,
A friend and myself leased the Paris Theatre for a (very) short time after Hoyts shut it when their 7 screen centre opened in George Street. I am currently writing an article on that brief time for the Cinema And Theatre Historical Society’s publication – Cinemarecord – and would love to obtain your photos for the CATHS`archive, which is the only active archive in Australia for cinema and theatre memorabilia preservation. Please contact me at Look forward to hearing from you.
Regards, John Holloway.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm

There’s a photo of the entrance of a large theater in the December 24, 1921, issue of Exhibitors Trade Review, and the caption identifies it as the Crystal Palace Theatre in Sydney. Could it be the Paris Theatre? It can be seen at lower left of this scan at the Internet Archive (click the + sign at lower right of the page to make it bigger.)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Joe; Nice link, but the Crystal Palace Theatre was on George Street, Sydney. It opened in June 1914 and was demolished in 1937 for the new Century Theatre to be built on the site. It too has since been demolished.

brucek
brucek on January 8, 2014 at 8:15 pm

This was the very first proper picture theatre that I, a young boy from a northern NSW country town, ever visited. It was in 1954, the Disney movie “The Living Desert” was featured, I was 9 years old and holidaying in The Big Smoke with my grandparents.

For a kid who only ever watched “pitchers” in the local School of Arts (which every country town seemed to have), the Paris was like another planet to my 9-year old senses! Great memories, deeply etched.

Oddly, when I grew up and later went to Sydney to work, I ended up in an office building in Goulburn street, just around the corner from the Paris, and saw its demolition.

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