Theater

Paramount Theatre

Address: 
713 Congress Avenue, Austin TX 78701
Phone: 
512-472-5470

Paramount's summer movies begin

The Paramount is the grande dame of Austin theaters. The downtown theater is primarily a venue for live performances, but shows movies during film festivals, red-carpet premieres, and the theater's annual Summer Classic Movie Series.

During film festivals and gala screenings, lines for the films form outside the theater and wrap in both directions down Congress. The lines often look deceptively long -- just because a line is stretched around the block and halfway down the next street doesn't mean you won't get in.

If you're carrying a water bottle, conceal it in a backpack or purse before you get to the theater entrance. The ushers take pains to ensure that no outside food or drinks enter the theater, although they won't check inside bags and purses.

Pros: It's usually easy to gain admission to most film-festival movies, even if you're not a badgeholder. This is the best venue for celebrity spotting and perhaps a red carpet or two. And let's face it, it's a beautiful theater.

Cons: The seats are narrow and close together, and you may feel a little too friendly with your neighbors. The legroom in the balconies is terrible. You're not supposed to shoot video in the Paramount at any time -- the ushers keep an eye out for this -- and depending on the event, you may not be allowed to take still photos either.

Best/worst seating: Avoid the box seats. The boxes also may partially block your view if you're sitting far left or right on the lower level. Some short people claim the best view is from the middle of the very last row of the orchestra/mezzanine level. Balcony seats have cramped legroom but offer good visibility if you're short. However, avoid the front row of the balcony; your view will be impeded by a big iron bar.

Screens and capacity: The Paramount is a single-screen theater that seats nearly 1200 people (1199 to be precise). For screenings that draw a smaller crowd, the ushers may try to fit everyone in the lower level and not open the balcony area.

Parking: No Paramount-specific parking. You can park in nearby garages or on the street in metered spots. Parking at St. David's garage (E. 7th) is often reasonably priced if you want to avoid the hassle of finding a spot on the street, although its rates often increase during special events (like most of SXSW, or some weekend nights).

Distance: You can walk to Alamo Ritz or the Hideout, to Austin Convention Center and many downtown hotels, bars and restaurants. Alamo on South Lamar is too far for a walk; grab a cab or find a ride. A cab stand is located on the southbound side of Congress and Sixth, a couple of blocks from the Paramount.

On-site food and beverages: You can buy bottled water, soft drinks, and beer and wine. Food is limited to popcorn and candy.

Nearby dining options: Roaring Fork in the Stephen F. Austin hotel next door offers weekday happy-hour food specials at the bar, and the Driskill's 1886 Cafe and Bakery has some reasonably priced items before 5 pm like soup and salad, and very filling breakfasts. Wholly Cow, next to the Hideout, has great burgers but can take a little time.

If you're looking for a pre-movie cocktail, try the second floor of the Stephen F. Austin and sit out on the balcony, which is perfect for people-watching.

Pro tip: Our favorite place for grabbing a bite on the run before/between downtown movies is the excellent Royal Blue Grocery, less than a block down Congress (toward 6th) from the Paramount. We would never admit to or encourage anyone to pick up some non-noisy, non-smelly salad from the deli section and sneak it into a Paramount movie (and if you do it, don't sneak it out of your bag until the theater is dark and the ushers are not nearby).

Syndicate content