New Orleans remembers local film icon

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleanians said goodbye Friday to the man credited with keeping local movie theaters alive in the city. Rene Brunet, Jr. passed away last week at the age of 95.

Brunet not only owned the Prytania Theater for over 20 years, he was also well known to many of the patrons. Those loyal movie goers showed up alongside his family Friday to say a final goodbye.

Rene Brunet, Jr.'s family like to say he was born into the movie business.

"His father who died in the mid 40's opened some of the very first movie theaters in New Orleans back at the turn of the century," son Rene Brunet III explained.

When Brunet, Jr. took over, business flourished.

"My dad led the way to the neighborhood movie theaters in this city," Brunet explained.

Over the years, he owned and operated a number of theaters including the Famous, the Circle, the Carver, the Joy on Canal Street, and the Prytania. With tributes blazoned across some downtown marquees, Rene Brunet III, marvels at what an impact his father has had.

"Everybody knows him and everybody has a story about my dad," Brunet said.

For Noel Jackson, the stories revolve around his twin brother and the Sundays they'd spend driving in from Baton Rouge to chat with Brunet Jr. and catch a film at the Prytania.

Jackson says, "Mainly it's because of his introduction and we know it's very rare and we knew it was only a matter of time that we could enjoy this man while he's still here."

Those personal forwards to films are what kept Michael Edwards coming back to the Sunday show year after year.

"He was always there, always had great witty stories, it was just a pleasure," Edwards explained.

Brunet III says he takes some solace in the fact that his father will be long remembered here. As he explains, movies were his life and his life's work, provided joy to so many.

The Prytania theater said goodbye to its longtime owner Friday with a free showing of "Rhapsody in Blue", Brunet Jr.'s favorite film, on what would have been his 96th birthday.

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