50 Champs Elysees,
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The Gaumont Ambassade opened on the Champs Elysees of Paris on 22nd September 1959 and was an event for Gaumont. The name Ambassade meant it would be the ambassador and flagship of Gaumont France theatres chain.
The architect Georges Peynet was one of the best at that time and he built the projection booth under the balcony in order to obtain the best condition for a fine picture. The auditorium was perfect for the 70mm prints and stereophonic sound.
The ceiling made of plastic tiles would change colour during the intermission from green to blue and red. The curtain would vanish beside the screen for 70mm movies leaving a picture from wall to wall. Housing 1,100 patrons (800 in the stalls and 300 in the balcony), the theatre was a modern design inside and outside.
A batallion of ushers in bright uniforms welcomed patrons and a suit and a tie were necessary to get in this first run movie theatre where a lot of famous premieres took place.
Many American blockbusters of the 1960’s had long runs in this theatre: “The Alamo” and “The Longest Day” for instance. These were the original version with subtitles but it also showed popular French movies.
When “Apocalypse Now” started with a 70mm print, the first six channel Dolby stereo amplifier ever heard in France was here, with sound coming from every corner of the theatre.
In 1981 Gaumont France bought an adjacent fashion shop to create a bigger lobby and the former Paramount Elysees Cinema in the next building already divided into four screens but with luxurious design. The Gaumont Ambassade with a renovation of the facade became a multiplex with a large capacity in the main auditorium which was renovated and lost its original ceiling and its original design. Seating was decreased to 840 with new more confortable seats. These were split between screen 1 in the former circle, now with 440 seats and screen 2 in the former stalls with 400 seats.
In 1987 a former Chinese restaurant in the same building became screen 6. The big balcony of screen one was divided in 1993 in two screens with stadium seating and wide screens and digital sound.
In 2004, the multiplex still welcomes premieres and was renovated but 44 years after the opening, it is another world.
The Gaumont Ambassade was closed on 29th July 2016. Plans are for an upmarket shoe stoe to take over the site.
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