The charm of New Orleans is that so much of the city is still preserved in its original form. The city takes pride in keeping things as they’ve been. We take pride in the institutions that have been around for decades, or maybe even a century, because it is these small businesses and restaurants that keep the culture alive and keep the big chain stores out of the city.
One of these such places is the Prytania Theater, which owns the claim of not only being the cities oldest operating movie theater, but the oldest single-screen movie house operating in the whole state of Louisiana. The Prytania was built in 1914 and first opened in December of that year. In its first few years, it became a very modern theater, with larger, comfier seats, big capacity and the newest appliances. Twelve years after its opening, a streetcar operator saw the theater in flames and alarmed the fire department. Only six months after the fire, the theater reopened with a lobby of red velvet and polished brass, transforming into one of the most beautiful theaters in the city. The theater thrived for four successful decades, transitioning from silent movies with organ accompaniment to the talking pictures that limited the need for any stage activity. In January of 1968, another fire gutted the theater, but it came back stronger than ever by Christmas Day of the same year.
Throughout the years, ownership of the theater went through many hands, but by 1997, Rene Brunet Jr. signed a lease of the Prytania, which still extends into the future for a few more decades, at least. Today, the Prytania Theater has shaped into a state-of-the-art modern movie theater. With Sony Digital 4K Projection, Dolby Digital Sound and “Real D 3-D” systems, the theater has capabilities just like any other, but it is much more than that. It is a favorite local institution. Over the years the theater has hosted events and celebrations for The Saints, Warren Easton High School, the New Orleans Film Festival and the French Film Festival.
The theater plays popular blockbusters on its one screen, but also has many programs throughout the week. On Sunday and Wednesday at 10 am, you can catch their classic movie series. On Friday and Saturday you can see the midnight movies series. And a few times a week there are early screenings of kid’s movies for a fun family outing.
So while you’re in town, there are many events to keep an eye out for at the theater, but be sure to swing by and enjoy one of our most treasured landmarks.