227 Convention Street,
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Often forgotten in discussions of the opulent (and connected by passageway) Paramount Theatre, the Hart Theatre was opened in 1941 as a pure movie theater with a showing of "Meet John Doe." It was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary E.V. Richards (who also operated the Paramount Theatre). It had a miniscule facade and entrance for such a large building. The main area of seating in the Hart Theatre was backed by a large stadium-style rear portion. Patrons entered from Convention Street down a long hallway to the concession stand, and then into the auditorium in between the main and stadium sections.
The Hart Theatre played the biggest and best of new releases into the early-1970’s, when it began to lose some of its drawing power. Big hits were still to be found throughout the mid-decade, but second runs and many second-tier martial arts projects often filled the bills. Still popular to the end, however, were the "Loose Late Shows" on Saturday. Some of Richard Pryor’s biggest hits of the late-1970’s (notably "Which Way Is Up?" were among the last big moneymakers at the Hart Theatre.
The Paramount Theatre had closed it doors in October 1978, but the Hart Theatre plugged on for another couple of months. After booking one of the bigger potential hits of the Christmas season with "Force Ten From Navarone" the theater announced its closing right around New Year’s Eve.
By September 1979, Baton Rouge movie fans mourned the rubble that became the entire half-block of downtown that had housed these two great theaters thanks to the wrecking ball.
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