In Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1988 cult film Cinema Paradiso, a projectionist becomes a celebrity director and uses his fame to showcase his old village cinema that united and excited a small Sicilian community. Today, this name has inspired two French producers and cinema operators to create an innovative cinema-hotel concept. Their establishment opened in East Paris last March and is already fully booked! Their goal is to counteract the drop in theater ticket sales due to the pandemic and make audiences fall back in love with film.
The idea behind the Hotel Paradiso is to revisit the everlasting joys of cinema by offering private, à la carte showings on giant screens in every room. From the outside, there is nothing particularly spectacular about number 135, Boulevard Diderot, near Place de la Nation. The pair behind the concept, Nathanaël and Elisha Karmitz – producers who operate some sixty theaters and whose legendary father Marin Karmitz founded the MK2 cinema chain – simply decided to renovate a six-screen multiplex. But the real miracle can be found on the hotel’s upper floors, designed by Daniel Vaniche and Paula Castro from the DVVD architecture firm. Topped with a terrace, the five floors are home to 34 rooms and two suites, each equipped with ten-foot screens.
Each room is turned towards an enormous window that transforms into a projection screen. Guests can enjoy the full range of premium hotel services, and while sat comfortably on the bed, can use a tablet and an overhead projector to access all current films and VOD services, including Netflix, Disney+, and MK2 Curiosity, a streaming platform designed specially by the two brothers. Some wonder if they have brought a hotel into a cinema, or rather put a gigantic cinema in a hotel. In the end, both concepts coexist perfectly. With one click, the screen lowers and plunges the fully-soundproofed room into total darkness. According to interior designer Alix Thomsen, “The window is a vanishing point into the outdoors, but here becomes a projection screen into the imagination.”
XXL Screens and Cutting-Edge Projectors
In this giant video store, cinema buffs and a few friends can attend their own bespoke, themed film festival for a few days or nights. Or alternatively, bathe in a chic, sleek, cocktail-party atmosphere and drink in a smorgasbord of series and classics. The pleasure of watching a “larger than life” movie as if you were in a theater is no small thing. Along with a selection of rooms in which guests can enjoy the experience from the bathtub, Hotel Paradiso’s two suites offer private, XXL cinema rooms with comfortable seats, a 430-square-foot screen, and cutting-edge projectors. And if that weren’t enough, the rooftop terrace can be privatized with open-air screenings, a restaurant serving up delicious cuisine, and a bar. Wearing headsets and admiring the breathtaking views over the capital, guests are sure to get an eyeful.
The Karmitz brothers have blended movies, music, fine dining, and art, even entrusting the interior design to sculptor Christian Boltanski and street artist JR, renowned for his monumental photo collages. But can this hybrid concept celebrating movie-theater atmospheres and cinematic experiences be exported? In the United States, where New York and other bustling cities are slowly regaining their pre-Covid energy, cinemas have been hit particularly hard.
However, streaming platforms have emerged victorious from the pandemic. Netflix recently announced it had 205 million subscribers, while Disney+ has 100 million just six months after launching. The struggling, debt-ridden American Multi-Cinema (AMC), which owns more than 10,000 theaters, is now looking for a buyer. Old Hollywood is short on creativity and convinced that overproduced global box-office hits will turn things around, but is now choking on big budgets and stale popcorn. So why not revisit the cinema experience to make it more powerful and unique with a hotel concept? The country that gave us George Cukor and John Ford is also home to hordes of pandemic-weary movie enthusiasts, who want nothing more than to watch a good film immersed in the intimacy of a dark theater setting.
On its own platform, the Hotel Paradiso offers the integral works of François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, produced by Marin Karmitz. Gathered on a dedicated platform, the often forgotten first films by Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Brian De Palma, and Martin Scorsese (known affectionately as the Movie Brats) may well win over American film lovers looking for an offer including arthouse movies while on a trip to Paris. By building bridges between the arts and cultures that can reboot the cinema experience, the Paradiso has kickstarted a brand new season of fresh ideas.
Article published in the July 221 issue of France-Amérique. Subscribe to the magazine.