Essential Architecture-  Paris

Cinema Rex


André Bluysen with John Eberson as consultant


1 Boulevard Poissonière, 2nd.




Art Deco 


rendered masonry


From the 1830s through to the 1930s, Paris was a theatergoers paradise. There was every kind of performance from music-hall burlesque to avant-garde music, housed in fantastically beautiful and innovative buildings. When film became popular, Parisian architects adapted the theater template into magnificent cinema temples. The Grand Rex is the most impressive of these halls, built just at the end of the boom in 1931; its genius comes partly from the American consultant John Eberson, who built almost 400 cinemas across the States during the 20s. The Rex turned out to be a mammoth project, taking a year to complete and housing 3,300 seats. The front is classically Art Deco, with its ocean-liner sleekness and uniquely Parisian “pan coupe” corner entrance. This style of corner was first legislated under Haussmann to allow carriage drivers better visibility when going around corners! During the 20s, these cutaway building corners were absurdly decorated with Oriental turrets, but the Rex is determinedly Moderne and has a round glowing latticework ziggurat crowning its entranceway. The interior continues this Art Deco fantasia; the well-kept auditorium features an Arabian Nights theme by designer Maurice Dufrene complete with fake constellations in the ceiling. Instead of ruining this wonderful hall by splitting it into smaller cinemas, the Rex intelligently built a couple of small screens in the 70s in the basement, where Bluysen had originally included a nursery and a kennel.


By Lisa Pasold (Special thanks to