Warner Bros. launches New Screening Room at U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Paris
The studio behind "Casablanca" will always have Paris thanks to a new 3D projector at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in the French capital.
PARIS - Warner Bros. has consummated its long love affair with French cinema with a renovated screening room at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Paris. The U.S. studio installed a digital screening room complete with 3D technology at the residence of current U.S. Ambassador to Paris Charles Rivkin.
“The French film industry has always been considered the gold standard,” Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said while on a visit to Paris to inaugurate the renovated screening room. He added: “One of the reasons we did this was to help to cement our long relationship with France. It’s not only a gift to the Ambassador and to the U.S. government, but it’s a gift to the French film industry as well.”
The screening room is located in a former ballroom that is said to have hosted both dances and film screenings when it was a German Officers Club during World War II. After the war, the building was leased to the British Royal Air Force Club then to the United States Government who bought it in 1948 and moved the Ambassador’s residence there in 1966.
Today, the room boasts a state-of-the-art digital projector, custom-made speakers and a screen with built-in 3D technology. Curtain liners were also installed to block out light during daytime screenings.
The Ambassador and his team hope the screening room will become a constructive tool to facilitate their public diplomacy efforts in France.
“Warner Bros. believes that movies are about stories that resonate with global audiences and move us beyond our cultural differences,” Rivkin said. He added: “It marks a new beginning. Movies are the greatest ambassadors that we can possibly imagine. The Warner Bros. screening room will advance French-American relations for generations to come.”
The partnership is all the more relevant since Warner Bros. title The Artist has been sweeping through awards season stateside and is a favorite for the 2012 Oscar race.
“As the U.S. Ambassador to France, it is very difficult to find or even imagine a more perfect film than The Artist,” Rivkin said, adding: “When you remove the barrier of language, you reveal how much our two cultures have in common and how much we both love film.”
Meyer agrees, telling THR that: “Film is a unifying force. The Artist was shot in the universal language of film – silence. It’s a French film shot in the U.S.. It’s something that transcends borders.”
The screening room is not only an ode to France’s seventh art, but also part of the U.S. Embassy’s public outreach agenda.
The Embassy plans to sponsor film series focusing on important themes and invite audiences such as students and young leaders to discover the magic of the movies. First on the agenda is a series of election-themed documentaries ahead of the U.S. presidential race.
“We can do intimate screenings or artist exchanges here, but I’m particularly proud to open the doors to this residence to people who normally wouldn’t be here and have the chance to inspire them,” Rivkin said.
The residence also has a personal history for Meyer. “The first time I came to this residence was when Clint Eastwood was awarded his second Legion of Honor medal a few years ago. He was also filming Hereafter in Paris at the time. I see this as a metaphor. We’ve been a part of the French film industry for a long time, so we want to support them in the same way they’ve always supported us,” he explained.
Warner Bros. has made several legendary films starring the City of Lights including An American in Paris and Casablanca, the 1942 title that will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year with a three-disk Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and gift set including more than 14 hours of extras. If that’s not enough for viewers, they’ll always have Paris.