Rest assured, I will NOT spoil anything about ‘The Avengers: Infinity War’ in this post although my fingers are aching to. I certainly do not want anyone making a voodoo doll of me or anything.
This blog post is about the mythical Grand Rex in all its splendour, from the decor to the cinematographic experience. Ever seen those Red carpet premieres with the lead actors smiling at the cameras and fans shoving their pen and paper for an autograph? The Grand Rex, which is the largest cinema theatre in Europe, is where that magic operates in Paris.
The new marvel gem coming into theatres just in time for my 20th birthday was a sign (at least I’d like to think so). My hands were full with all the final assignments I had to submit but also with dodging spoilers being thrown my way online, by people who had seen the movie on the 25th itself. Some of the ‘creatures’ I call best friends were freaking responsible for the paranoia I experienced. I had been looking for an avant- première of The Avengers for a while and was a bit down when I came to know that there would be none in Paris. Still, I was adamant about one thing: I was going to go watch the movie as soon as it was released. I could have easily gone to my usual cinema where I get amazing student deals in terms of ticket price. Yet I felt that I would be doing something wrong: This movie just had to have the special treatment as after all it’s not everyday that you have such a charismatic cast reunited. And when it comes to fancy cinema theatres, nothing comes close to The Grand Rex. A few texts of nonchalant monosyllables and I had a faithful sidekick to accompany me (That’s what best friends are for right?).
Think velvet, chandeliers and charleston vibes. A red carpet stretched outside indicating one of the many waiting lines, depending on your ticket type, welcomes you. As you enter, you might think you are in an elegant hotel as you are greeted by stewarts in nice coats and bow ties. The first thing you see is a nice marble counter where you usually validate or buy your cinema tickets. After that quick procedure, the employee steers you to the right room and shows you the main hall. I was automatically drawn to the latter, lit up splendidly by a luxurious crystal chandelier. The red velvet couch, against an entire wall covered by a mirror, beckoned me and screamed Instagram-worthy. However, as we were in a hurry, we bolted to the snack counter to grab some chips and drinks. The shelves did lack variety. The thing is that in most theatres in Paris, you have sweets dispensers, several shelves stocked with all sorts of crisps and fridges of most soft drinks you’d think of. I think that in their attempt to limit stains or other incidents in the theatres, they have restricted the food stand to popcorn, some Lays, generic chocolates and the most popular soft drink brands.
Proceeding to the cinema rooms felt like an underground trip. After at least three flights of stairs, we arrived to our attributed room. The great thing was that, it was a free seating concept and as we had opted for the projection of the original version, meaning that it was in English, the room was nearly empty! Let’s just say that a lot of people in France are not particularly fond of English. I was slightly disappointed by the room we were in though. I guess it had to be the smallest one in the Grand Rex as the administration there, had to have anticipated the unpopularity of the English version and thus put us in the smallest theatre. The chairs were decent, just like in most good cinema theatres, but the major drawback is that they did not have any armrest and cup holder. Moreover, the lighting was awful inside. Even before the movie started, we were plunged into an inconvenient semi-darkness only interrupted by exit signs on the doors and markers on the stairs. I later came to know that in order to get the Grand room, one must pay about 50 euros and that there were specific time slots and that only some movies were broadcasted on the giant screen. Furthermore, VIP sessions were 50 euros per persons and only on the condition that you had about 20/21 persons in your party. I don’t know what you are getting with those 50 euros but it’s definitely overpriced for a movie (add champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries and we might have a deal!).
Then, maybe I am just being overly exigent but I guess I experienced the longest commercial break ever. I’ve been to the movies in France more than I can count and I know that there is generally 15 minutes of commercials and upcoming movies’ trailers before the film starts. Yet, we witnessed about 30 minutes of advertisements. I didn’t get bored as amongst them I got to watch some very nice trailers but still… Otherwise, there was plenty of space for your legs and the surround sound system was just on point. For those wearing spectacles just like me, wearing the 3D glasses obtained upon the cinema ticket, were very comfortable. Wearing two specs simultaneously was no hassle. Indeed, I did notice that the spectacles we were given, were red instead of the usual black. This might not be the reason why the experience was nice and the IMAX experience was great!
I might go back to the Grand Rex someday, just for the sake of getting to explore behind the scenes, because yes, there are behind the scenes visits organised daily! Still, the Grand Rex is a bit overpriced for what we have experienced but perhaps I might be making hasty judgements and I ought to go there, to a proper cinema room someday.
-Tessa Lalljee /guest writer