Pagode

57 Bis Rue de Babylone,
Paris 75007

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La Pagode

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Located in the southwest of the city centre. Certainly one of the original monuments to see in Paris, La Pagode was erected in October 1896 to the designs of architect Alexandre Marcel. It was built by a Mr. M. Morin, the manager of the department store Bon March, as a wedding present for his wife on the land next to their house. A real pagoda (some features imported from Japan) in a lavish Japanese style, it was used as a ballroom. But they quickly divorced and the pagoda was hired for events.

It was converted to a 400-seat cinema in March 1931. A projection booth was built at the rear side of the building and beautiful glass windows were darkened by simple wood panels. An additional building constructed on a part of the garden was used as the lobby.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, La Pagode was a simple district movie house showing second run movies. Every Thursday, I remember the children’s matinee with Laurel and Hardy movies and cartoons.

At the beginning of the 1970’s, it was turned to an art movie theatre but this lovely design inside and outside is very old fashioned with a dusty smell.

But what future for this theatre at the beginnig of the multiplex and lost in a very quiet district? The answer came from an independent French film producer who built a new 180-seat screen in the basement. The high wall of the garden was part demolished to be replaced by metal railings in order for the building and the garden to be seen from the street, and a new modern lobby was erected.

With a clever first run art movie programming and a brillant restoration of the main auditorium, which now seats 212, the result was a huge success.

In the 1990’s the difficulty to run two screens was a major problem. Gaumont, who had operated the Pagode since 1979 decided to quit, and a new owner of the building intended to open a restaurant, but the Ministry of Culture decided to upgrade the Landmark status of the building together with its garden, with the obligation for it to remain a cinema.

After two years dark again La Pagode reopened, the towers of the roof are covered with plastic sheets to avoid leaks and scaffolding in the main auditorium to hold the highly decorative ceiling which is covered with plastic sheeting. Major works of renovation are needed but the future is more secure and I hope this renovation will be possible. This is one of the more interesting movie theatres in Paris.

Contributed by Xavier Delamare

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 15, 2007 at 5:01 am

The seating capacity in the original auditorium is 211. As stated in the opening text above, the newer basement screen seats 180.

Gooper
Gooper on June 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I always thought it was an actual Shinto temple because any advertisement of what it was was very low key. It is certainly an oddball as far as its neighbors are concerned, but it does not stand out. You have to look for it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Warren’s links are dead, but I’ve found this weblog post which begins with four photos of La Pagode and its garden.

This web page has photos of theaters around the world taken from the book Architectures de Cinémas, by Francis Lacloche, and includes a more expansive view of the auditorium of La Pagode (found a bit less than halfway down the page.)

This web page has a general view of the theater’s unobtrusive entrance. Clicking the “view all images” link reveals only one more photo, depicting the garden.

Also, this article about Paris cinemas from The Guardian begins with an evocative nocturnal photo of La Pagode’s vertical sign.

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