A Step Back in Time
I would doubt that you could find anyone who would argue that New Orleans is not a most unique city. There are many things that contribute to this not the least of which is the Prytania Theatre. This fine old institution has be in business continuously at its original uptown location since 1915. That, my friends, makes it the only single screen movie house in Louisiana. It has survived fires, hurricanes and stadium seating mega movie complexes. Are you imagining a rundown and old movie house showing movies that came out years ago? Well, you would be partly right but perhaps not in the way you might think (more on that later).
State of the Art Technology
The theater is state of the art being the first in the city to go all digital about two years ago. That’s right, no 35 millimeter film can be found in the building, only movies on special hard drives. Besides the digital picture and sound system, the theater is also equipped to show “in your face” 3D. Additionally, the interior was renovated as well as the concession area so that everything feels new and modern.
An Interesting History
An interesting fact concerning the history of this establishment is that the original building was destroyed by fire in 1927. It was rebuilt the next year on the same site. What is interesting about this is that when it reopened it featured those new fangled talkies. Can you imagine going to view a silent movie and the very next time you go to the Prytania you are able to experience the actors talking on the screen? Talk about progress!
The Man Behind the Screen
The founder and force behind this enduring enterprise is a 90 year old dynamo. Renee Brunet can be found every day at his business doing what he loves to do. Showing the latest films and meeting the people who come to see them. You can not miss him with his signature suit and movie themed tie. He always sports a bright smile an a friendly handshake. He is also a renowned historian who can tell you practically anything about the sixty or more theaters that once populated New Orleans.
Special Showings of Classic Movies
Renee Brunet is a success not only because of his love for movies and the people who come to see those movies but because of his ability to think “out of the box”. Yes, it is true that he shows all of the first run movies as soon as they are released but it doesn’t end there. He offers a matinee featuring the old movie classics every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday at noon. A special treat is the pre-show where Rene takes the stage and gives an informative and entertaining preview of the movie his guest are about to enjoy. Current examples of these showings include To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant and Grace Kelly), A Place in the Sun (Elizabeth Taylor) and The Great Caruso (Mario Lanza). Rene is a tireless individual as indicated by the fact that he holds midnight showings on Saturday evenings. One of his favorite movies will be featured shortly. That movie is The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. Mr. Brunet informed me that one of his most precious movie memories is when Nicholson’s character is breaking down the door with an axe and tells his wife, Wendy, “Here’s Johnny!”. Brunet went on to enlighten me that Jack adlibbed this line which was not in the script. You see, I told you he knew the movie business.
Red Carpet World Premiere
Another fact that makes this place so special is that it held a Red Carpet world premiere of the movie The Blindside which starred Sandra Bullock. Renee was especially proud to remember that he received both a hug and a kiss from the lovely Ms. Bullock as well as a generous check for a local charity. This all occurred on the stage before the premiere with lots of celebrities and a number of New Orleans Saints football stars in the packed house. Oh, by the way, there was another Red Carpet event held recently. This time the honoree was none other that Mr. Brunet and the occasion was the celebration of his 90th birthday. It was a surprise party presented by his family and friends much to Rene’s surprise.
Where and More Information
The year 2015 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Prytania Theatre. Rene happily told me that there are city wide plans to celebrate this milestone and he is busily at work making sure that this will be another memorable Brunet production. Whether you are a visitor to our city or a native, you owe it to yourself to visit this historical venue located at 5339 Prytania Street in uptown New Orleans just off Jefferson Ave. You can also reach the Theatre at 504.891.2727 with any questions about show times or theater rental. For all the information you need go to the official website. By the way, when you go your visit would not be complete without saying hello to Renee. I know he would be pleased to meet you.