Throughout its long history, Opelousas was known for the entertainment opportunities it provided for citizens and visitors alike. During much of the 1800s until the first part of the 20th century, The Sandoz Opera House was the place to see great live shows. But by the early 1900s,
something new was intrduced to the people of Opelousas -- a new kind of entertainment. Moving Pictures had arrived! It seemed everyone in town wanted a part of that action.
In 1906 even the old Sandoz Opera House started to show “Moving Pictures.” On October 29th and 30th of that year, the Opera house offered Moving Pictures, direct from the Gayety Theater in St. Louis, said to be the best in the United States. In an announcement in the Opelousas Courier on October 20, 1906, the management of the Opera House stated, “we have gone to a great deal of expense and trouble to get these pictures to come here, and hope that the public will patronize this show, as it is worthy of their interest, and must not be confounded with the cheap outfits which have been shown here before. Among the well-known Moving Picture subjects shown at the Sandoz were Bluebeard. the Holy City, the Lost Child, Smuggling Dogs, Rescued by Carlo, Trip to the Moon, the Trouble with Fleas, a Clown's Adventures, the Bold Bank Robbery, Wreck of the Limited Express. Why the Typewriter Was Fired, the Great Russian Cavalry Drill, San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, along with many others, including pictures and information on prominent persons of that time
The first real “Moving Picture Theater” in Opelousas was the Bijou Theater, which was opened in 1907. Mr. L. Klien was the proprietor. The theater was located in the Band Pavilion in downtown Opelousas. Their weekly ad in the St. Landry Clarion claimed “the Bijou Theater is here to stay and give to the people a clear, up to date show.” The Bijou had competition the following year when the Bellevue Theater opened on Saturday, February 23, 1908. It was located on Bellevue Street.
Also in 1908 a new picture show was established and soon won its way to popularity with the motion picture crowd. Dreamland Moving Picture Show opened at the corner of Main and North streets, opposite P. T. Blackshear & Son’s store. The announcement appearing in the paper on October 2 of that year claimed it was by far the best moving picture show ever seen in Opelousas. It claimed that Opelousas people have been quick to show their appreciation by patronizing it. The article went on to say that “the pictures are particularly clear and distinct, with less annoying shimmering than is usual with such concerns.” Admission to this show was 5 cents and 10 cents, making the Dreamland Picture Show a cheap and pleasant place to while away the evening hours. As an extra to draw more picture show goers, pretty souvenirs were given out to all attending.
More theaters followed with the opening of the Bon Amis Theater, which was connected with Mr. F. J. Dietlein. It was located in Opelousas by 1914.
Another early movie theater in Opelousas was the Princess Theater, located on Landry Street. Ads for this theater ran weekly in the local newspaper. Their slogan was “where you see good photo plays.” The Princess, owned by Opelousas Motion Picture Company, Inc., was in operation by 1914
On April 1, 1933, the Conrad Theater opened on Market Street. In 1934, it became the Delta Theater and remained in operation until the late 1970s.
By the late 1940s, the town has at least three more movie houses: the Rex Theater on Landry Street, the Rose Theater on Market Street (opened in 1947), and the Alamo Theater on Landry Street. Later the Lou Ana Theater opened on Court Street.
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