In Paris, Pathé closes the legendary cinema Le Bretagne

The closure of Brittany, a historic cinema in the Montparnasse district, once one of the largest Parisian cinemas, was done with the utmost discretion. Photo Alex Huyghe

Located in Montparnasse, this historic venue no longer welcomes spectators. Owned by Pathé, it cannot be converted into a theater due to lack of sufficient space to install dressing rooms and shop sets. Its future will be discussed with the co-ownership and Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.

For his very last session, the Brittany projected The miracles on Tuesday, November 14 at 8:30 PM for… three spectators. Its closure was done with the utmost discretion. It is by purchasing the small magazine The official of shows to his newsagent that Axel Huyghe, head of the site salleciné, discovered it. “It was simply written under the name of the cinema on the program pages final closure“, he explains. For this specialist in cinemas and author of a reference work about this cinema, a page is turned. “ I went to Brittany this summer to see the latter Impossible mission with Tom Cruise and the audience was clearly breathless, especially during the sets,”

he remembers. Benjamine Rytmann-Radwanski (1928-2023), who died last May, will not see her beloved cinema close its doors. By the end of 2009, it had sold all its cinemas, including Brittanyon boulevard du Montparnasse 73 in the VI e district of Paris to Jérôme Seydoux, owner of the Pathé group. Despite her age, this very authoritarian lady remained at the head of this rented room until Covid. Tired by the pandemic, she gave the keys back to Pathé when the cinemas reopened. Since then, Pathé has struggled to operate it because people simply don’t come there anymore.“In 2023, 20,000 spectators opened the doors of Brittany, compared to a total of 700,000 expected in 2023 for our three other cinemas right next door: the PathéParnasse, the Miramar and the Montparnos» , explains to Le Figaro Aurélien Bosc, president of Pathé Cinémas. These visitor numbers explain our choice to transfer Brittany’s activity to our other nearby locations.” And to specify:

“Contrary to rumors, the Miramar has not been postponed and continues to operate.” What will become of Brittany? “It is still owned by Pathé, explains Aurélien Bosc.

We have explored the possibility of turning it into a theater, but this is impossible because there is not enough space to create dressing rooms and storage areas for the sets. We are not going to turn it into a cinema, because the neighborhood already has many. We will explore other options, in consultation with the co-ownership and the city of Paris. The saga of Brittany is not trivial. It all starts in what is now Belarus. Fleeing pogroms, the Ashkenazi Jew Joseph Rytmann (1903-1983) settled in Paris. He worked in wood and textile shops before focusing on movie theaters. “Before the war, cinemas were a flourishing business, says his biographer Axel Huyghe. In 1933, Joseph Rytmann began purchasing the Miramar in Alésia, which, after being the Montrouge theater, had already been converted into a cinema. In 1938 he acquired the Miramar in Montparnasse.

During the occupation, French Jews of Jewish faith were forbidden to enter operating theaters and cinemas. Joseph Rytmann is robbed and takes refuge in the free zone. He survived the war and had to fight in court during the Liberation to get his cinemas back. He succeeds and builds a small empire that includes Montparnos, Bienvenue, Brittany… The latter is so called because it is located in the stronghold of the Bretons, a district full of creperies because the Montparnasse station directly serves the country of Breizh. The Brittany was inaugurated on September 27, 1961 with much fanfare The cellar revolts by Gilles Grangier with Jean Gabin, Martine Carole, Bernard Blier. It is the third largest hall in the capital (850 seats), after the Big Rexand theUGC Normandy . In 1973, a second chamber was dug there. Among the operators, Joseph Rytmann is known for his bad temper and Russian accent, but he is highly respected. Nicknamed “the Emperor of Montparnasse”, it was he who made Montparnasse, after the Champs-Élysées and the Grands Boulevards, located on the right bank of the Seine, the essential area for the screening of new films in the capital. “The Brittany was what we called in the jargon an exclusive cinema, only new films were shown. At the time it was rare. There were the theater exclusives, and then the ones that had a second exclusivity before the general release.

says Axel Huyghe. Joseph Rytmann worked until his death in 1983. His daughter succeeded him. At the end of 2009 she transferred the family circuit to Pathé. In 2012, Bienvenüe-Montparnasse became Jean-Marc Dumontet’s Grand Point-Virgule Theater. Miramar is added to Gaumont Parnasse. The Mistral, near Alésia, closed in 2016. Spectators now go directly opposite the very modern Pathé Alésia. Until the end, Brittany will have kept the name Rytmann on the facade… (*Rytmann, the adventure of a cinema manager in Montparnasse, Axel Huyghe and Arnaud Chapuy, foreword by Claude Lelouch. L ‘Harmattan, 128

pages, 30 euros.(

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