Prytania Theater

5339 Prytania Street,
New Orleans, LA 70115

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WTKFLHN on August 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

By the way, The Prytania was the first theater to open after Katrina hit. And the only show in town for some time afterward.

WTKFLHN on August 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm

In response to tinydr’s comment on Mr Brunet’s age, I wouldn’t worry to much about the Prytania’s future. He has his son in the business with him, and I think as long as they can make a profit there, the show will go on.

Johnny23 on September 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm

the only real old-school movie theater in new orleans. obviously run by people who care about movies. they even run midnight showings of cult films on weekends. i love this place dearly. if given the choice, i wouldn’t see movies anywhere else. alas, with the single-screen, you only get a single choice of movie to see, and it’s been quite a while since they showed anything i was particularly interested in seeing.

Messer00 on August 4, 2012 at 12:55 am

I have been comming here since I was a child…the first movie I remeber being there for was Pochantis. I was born in 1992. I believe it was the reshowing. then I remember seeing the Xfiles movie. I saw one of the Harry Potters there. Rocky Horror Picture Show 3 or 4 times. The Artist and The Dark Knight Rises Twice. Those are all the films I remember but anyway This is the best most authentic still running open movie theater from the past. that was long in new orleans. i love this place it will be in my heart forever.

ArthurHardy on June 11, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Announcing a book about New Orleans Movie Theaters

The History of the Neighborhood Theaters in New Orleans
is being written by 89-year-old Rene Brunet, the dean of the motion picture industry in Louisiana, and New Orleans historian and preservationist Jack Stewart. The 160-page,coffee table book will be released in November and is being published by Arthur Hardy Enterprises, Inc. Attention will be focused on 50 major neighborhood and downtown theaters, culled from a list of nearly 250 that have dotted the cityâ€\s landscape since the first “nickelodeon” opened in 1896 at 626 Canal Street. The book will be divided by neighborhoods and will open with a map and a narrative about each area. Each major theater will feature “then and now” photographs, historic information, and a short series of quotes from famous New Orleanians and from regular citizens who will share their recollections.
We are trying to acquire memorabilia and additional photos of this theater for this publication. (deadline July 1.) You will be credited in the book and receive a free autographed copy if we publish the picture that you supply. Please contact Arthur Hardy at or call 504-913-1563 if you can help.

Dublinboyo on April 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Just got back from a trip to NOLA and made a point of stopping by the Prytania Theater to see it. What a wonderful place! Had to see it as it plays a big role in one of my fav novels: “A Confederacy of Dunces.” A lovely small, charming neighbourhood theater and a wonderful place to see a film. Attended the 2:30 pm matinee of “Alice in Wonderland” in 3D. This theater runs digital now and what a presenation! Sound is clear and loud and the projection is first rate. Truly a great theater to watch a film. Matinee was about 1/3 full for a weekday. Sadly, this is the only theater left open in New Orleans and the last single screen theater in the whole state of Louisiana. No open theaters remain on Canal Street and the devastaion that was caused by Katrina is very evident when you see the condition these theaters are in. The Prytania Theater is truly a gem in a great city.

joysmovies on January 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm

This is a city archive photo from April 11, 1968 of firefightere fighting a fire at the theatre.
View link

MovieTalkDave on August 13, 2007 at 12:55 am

Look for an updated article on the Prytania Theater and its remodeling in the October issue of Box Office Magazine.

Karen Colizzi Noonan
Karen Colizzi Noonan on November 23, 2006 at 4:55 pm

Thanks Erin. I had the pleasure of visiting the Prytania and Mr. Rene Brunet in mid-October and found him to be charming and gracious (as was everyone i encountered in New Orleans!) and so very proud of his theater. I wish we’d had more time to chat, but we did look at the many vintage photos on the lobby walls and he had a great story for almost every one of them. The theater itself has obviously been severely redecorated (inside and out) since it’s inception, but through the photos Mr. Brunet was able to show me the original design. He’s had such a long and storied role with so many other great New Orleans theaters. True Southern treasures: the Prytania AND Mr. Brunet!

oeil21 on November 23, 2006 at 4:41 pm

The inside… I am pretty sure the seats are original because they can be really uncomfortable! Other than that the rest of the theater space is in good condition. There is sort of a fifties vibe to the lobby with modern inspired “floating” stairs that lead to up to the theater space covered in a worn down red carpet. Unfortunately from a design standpoint nothing else too spectacular I can recall. But it is warm and inviting, is clean and safe and is well kept. I once saw a film at the joy or lowes theater on Canal Street – and I kid you not – there was a hole in the roof where rain was dripping in. You could see outside. And a fire alarm was beeping every 30 seconds or so non-stop.

Karen Colizzi Noonan
Karen Colizzi Noonan on October 15, 2006 at 1:39 pm

Can anyone comment on the condition of the interior of this theater? The outside appears to be modernized quite a bit. What about the interior?

tinydr on May 22, 2006 at 12:54 pm

I’m curious to see what will happen with the Prytania in the next 10 years or so, the current owner appears to be getting on in his years…

jazzland on April 24, 2006 at 3:18 pm

The current facade has been there since at least the mid 1970’s. I started going to the Prytania at that time while attenting Tulane University.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on April 19, 2006 at 5:08 am

LM, thanks for the photo links. Any ideas about the brick facade on the Prytania? I don’t remember it looking like that at all, but the last time I was there was in 1989. Has this little operation been so successful that they could afford a whole new (and rather nice looking) exterior? Or is my memory lost too?

jazzland on March 3, 2006 at 3:45 pm

The film that Ignatius is wathcing in the excerpt above is “Jumbo”, staring Doris Day and released by MGM in 1961. He refers to Doris Day as his “ favorite ingenue” a few times in the book. Additionaly, later in the book, Ignatius goes to the RKO Orpheum on University Place in New Orleans to see “That Touch of Mink”, starring Doris Day and Cary Grant, released by Universal in 1962. This may not be quiet correct in that the Joy Theatre on Canal Street had a virtual monopoly on Universal releases up to the mid-1970’s. Early on in the Book Ignatius states that he was conceived after his parents attended a screening of “Red Dust” (Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Mary Astor, MGM 1932) at the Prytania Theatre; his father never went to the movies again.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 2, 2006 at 7:45 am

Great exerpt from “A Confederacy of Dunces!” Thanks. I was in the Prytannia only once, many years ago and don’t remember the film I saw. The building was certainly – uh, how to say it, simple. I remember a smallish, low ceilinged, flat-floored room with a tiny lobby and no decor at all. It is an interesting location, the only commercial property on a residential street. Clever management and shear force of will must have kept this business going. Best wishes to the management for a job well done!

GWaterman on December 26, 2005 at 5:57 pm

Thank you, Gerald. A wonderful book, one that everyone who is interested in this incredible city should read.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 21, 2005 at 1:23 am

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces, author John Kennedy Toole has an episode set in the Prytania. Ignatius, the central character, makes loud comments and is a frequent annoyance at the theatre. The film is a circus thriller with a bit of romance. Kids scream. Ignatius gets worse and worse. In these excerpts Toole writes:

He sat at attention in the darkness of the Prytania only a few rows from the screen, his body filling the seat and protruding into the two adjoining ones. On the seat to his right he had stationed his overcoat, three Milky Ways, and two auxiliary bags of popcorn, the bags neatly rolled at the top to keep the popcorn warm and crisp. Ignatius ate his current popcorn and stared raptly at the previews of coming attractions. One of the films looked bad enough, he thought, to bring him back to the Prytania in a few days. Then the screen glowed in bright, wide technicolor, the lion roared, and the title of the excess flashed on the screen before his miraculous blue and yellow eyes. His face froze and his popcorn bag began to shake. Upon entering the theater, he had carefully buttoned the two earflaps to the top of his cap, and now the strident score of the musical assaulted his naked ears from a variety of speakers. He listened to the music, detecting two popular songs which he particularly disliked, and scrutinized the credits closely to find any names of performers who normally nauseated him.

He put the empty popcorn bag to his full lips, inflated it and waited, his eyes gleaming with reflected technicolor…In the darkness two trembling hands met violently. The popcorn bag exploded with a bang. The children shrieked.

“What’s all that noise?” the woman at the candy counter asked the manager.

“He’s here tonight,” the manager told her, pointing across the theater to the hulking silhouette at the bottom of the screen. The manager walked down the aisle to the front rows, where the shrieking was growing wilder. Their fear having dissipated itself, the children were holding a competition of shrieking. Ignatius listened to the bloodcurdling little trebles and giggles and gloated in his dark lair. With a few mild threats, the manager quieted the front rows and then glanced down in the row in which the isolated figure of Ignatius rose like some great monster among the little heads.

“Oh my goodness!” Ignatius shouted, unable to contain himself any longer…“What degenerate produced this abortion?”

“Shut up,” someone shouted behind him.

When a love scene appeared to be developing, he bounded up out of his seat and stomped up the aisle to the candy counter for more popcorn, but as he returned to his seat, the two pink figures were just preparing to kiss.

“They probably have halitosis,” Ignatius announced over the heads of the children. “I hate to think of the obscene places that those mouths have doubtlessly been before!”

“You’ll have to do something,” the candy woman told the manager laconically. “He’s worse than ever tonight.”

The manager sighed and started dow the aisle to where Ignatius was mumbling, “Oh, my God, their tongues are all over each other’s capped and rotting teeth.”

GWaterman on December 3, 2005 at 2:25 pm

The Prytania is featured in John Kennedy Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces” as the theatre frequented by the anti-hero Ignatius J. Reilly so that he can rant at the horrors of bad taste shown in the films.

telliott on July 3, 2005 at 2:18 pm

I too would love to see pictures of this theatre. They don’t even have one on their web site. The only one I have found is under Google Images and type in Prytania. It’s not a very good picture though.

JackCoursey on March 22, 2005 at 7:18 pm

Attended a screening of Wings Of The Dove here when I was student at Tulane. Without doubt, one of, if not the best venue for screening foreign and art films in the United States. The theater is intimate and comfortable. The auditorium is equipped with a small balcony and a shadow box screen. Worth the price of admission just to go in and view this marvel.
Does anyone know of any sites with interior and exterior photos of the Prytania?