Great State: The Paramount Returns

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — The short walk from snack bar to theater never included so much history. Melodie Garneau walks past the old posters, the film vault, and, finally, to a once forgotten screening room on Oklahoma City’s old Film Row. That’s where Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant await to entertain. “It makes sense,” says Garneau, “that if you’re going to put in a theater this is the place.”

Welcome to the latest incarnation of the Paramount, OKC. The original movie company built this office in the silent era as a distribution center. Other studios followed. For a time, Film Row on Sheridan was a bustling center for Hollywood studios shipping their latest releases all over the country. “I wasn’t familiar with the history of this film exchange area,” says Melodie.

When Melodie and two other partners moved in it was as empty as the second floor of the building is now. They planned to open a little diner for breakfast and lunch with a movie theme.

Garneau was always better at the movie stuff than she was at making lattes, but the possibility of using the old screening room set a lot of ideas in motion. “Is this a boutique theater?” asks a visitor. “I guess that’s true,” responds Garneau. “I hadn’t thought about it but I suppose it is.”

The Paramount, OKC is one part coffee and sandwich shop. The other part of the business is a movie club. Patrons pay to join and then get to come and watch whatever is playing that night.

Garneau used to watch her films alone but nowadays she likes a lot of company. “When you get those movies that a lot of other people remember as a kid, it’s fun to watch them because we have the same memories,” she says.

She can still thread an 8 MM projector better than she can pour a fancy cup of coffee. Nevertheless, the old movies live on in the Paramount. The fit between old business and new makes for a sweet ‘Melodie’, especially when she can sit down and watch anytime she wants.