Universal destroys the oldest surviving movie set in history (Phantom of the Opera 1925)

James / September 30th, 2014

Soundstage 28 at Unviersal Studios was home to the movie set of the Paris Opera House from the classic Phantom of the Opera (1925). It stood there for 90 years, and was the last standing set from any of the classic Universal monster movies, but even more important, it was the OLDEST SURVIVING MOVIE SET IN HISTORY. About a month ago, I started hearing, what I thought were rumors, of Universal’s plans to demolish it to make room for new theme park attractions. I honestly didn’t think it would happen. There were two petitions going (I signed them both) and I’ve always heard the set was protected by the National Register of Historic Places, but that must have been inaccurate. Next thing I know… the set has already been demolished! This news is at least a week old now, but I just felt the need to mention it. It’s unbelievable that film history can be destroyed overnight, like that. I’ve heard rumors that pieces of the set have been removed prior to the demolition and are going to be preserved… somewhere. I’ll believe it when I see the proof. If any of the set has been saved, where are the pictures?



  • September 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Its a shame, Lets hope we can see whats been left behind in some undercover photos.

  • September 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm


  • September 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Why not make the soundstage part of the tour. I mean, theres barely any real movie stuff on that tour anymore, just flood scenes and 3D films. The flood scene is outdated (I used to play around on the rocks there when I was a kid some 25 years ago, long story) and you really dont see the inside of a real soundstage anywhere on that tour. Guess that stuff is getting relegated to a obscure exhibit somewhere in the park. Near a popcorn stand.

    • October 13, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Probably because they are either in use by a crew or they sit empty and not that intresting. Soundstage 28 was different because they left part of the opera backdrop intact, but the soundstage hadn’t been used for filming for a long time. Rumor on the lot said it was haunted and everytime they tried to remove the set, something bad would happen. The truth was the soundstage was outdated so it was only used for wardrobe and makeup departments, which is why I was in there.

  • JayRam

    September 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Yeah, I heard about this last week. Pissed that I never got the chance to check it out. What’s next, the demolition of the Psycho house to make room for some bland movie franchise?

  • Lozzo

    September 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    You what’s bullshit? THIS! THIS IS BULLSHIT! Is nothing sacred anymore?

  • Michael Holmes

    September 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!…oh my God…

  • September 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    What a shame. I think sometime, that people don’t realize what brought certain things to where it is today. No respect for something that was part of history. Sad about that news but , what can we do ??

  • Wazzafuzza

    September 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    come on all they did was briefly point out a building while on the tour at minimum they could have kept it and made it part of the tour.
    WTF universal don’t you have an apreciation for your own history?

  • Rick

    September 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Damn…just damn…

  • Don Skiver

    September 30, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Demolish history and make room for the gift shop! Gotta sell those overpriced chinese made pieces of plastic shit! Can’t make a buck preserving heritage and history!

    It’s a god damn crying shame.

  • DocLathropBrown

    September 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Fear not, James. It turns out that Universal has only demolished the actual stage (unfortunate, since it was a stage built FOR “Phantom”), which is actually not the oldest stage on the lot anyway. The surviving pieces of the Opera House set have been disassembled and stored temporarily while Universal figures out how best to display the preserved set for the world to see and appreciate. It honestly works out better because no members on the general public were able to see the sets anyway as it was, but now Universal is going to make them a museum piece for the world. And honestly, with how many fires the Universal lot is prone to, it was a miracle the sets survived THIS long. Now they can be taken somewhere much more secure.

    Source: http://variety.com/2014/artisans/news/universal-to-demolish-phantom-of-the-opera-soundstage-but-preserve-silent-films-set-1201292227/

    • October 1, 2014 at 1:07 am

      I saw that article as well and was relieved. It makes you wonder it what kind of context they could display such a massive and fragile set though. Still, the loss the stage is heartbreaking. So many great films, many discussed by James including Bride of Frankenstein, were also filmed on that stage.

  • October 1, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Even if some of the set survived this is messed up.. don’t they have respect for history? it was a set from a classic universal movie.. what’s wrong with the people in charge?

  • Ryan O'Reilly

    October 1, 2014 at 6:17 am

    I used to work at Universal next to the Transformers attraction and knew Stage 28 very well.

    From what I know, the sets have been removed but preserved. I don’t know where they relocated them to, however.

  • Barry the Nomad

    October 1, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Well that really sucks. The set also served as interiors for The Muppet Theater in 2011’s The Muppets.

  • Santa Horse

    October 1, 2014 at 7:51 am

    It sucks, but it’s not that surprising. After all, this is the same studio that turned Cat in the Hat into a glorified commercial. But luckily it seems only part of the stage has been destroyed and the rest put in storage, so maybe they’ve got more soul than we assumed.

  • Xen11

    October 1, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I don’t understand why some people feel the need to destroy something beautiful and harmless. It’s like how Universal Studios ended the Back To The Future ride. What the fuck for? Why not just extend the park and make the Simpsons in some other area, you have the fucking room and the money to do so. This brings my piss to a boil.

  • MetalHorrorNES

    October 1, 2014 at 10:20 am

    It’s all about the almighty $$$.

  • windrammingroadkillskunk

    October 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Fuck those bastards.

  • October 1, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    The set will always live on as long as there is a copy of the movie floating around. It sucks that it’s gone, but the memories it’s created will last a life time.

  • Satnav

    October 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    Alas, everything goes to dust eventually. It’s pretty incredible that it survived for this long, especially since you had all the expansions and renovations over the years…but as someone mentioned it does seem pretty much confirmed that the set itself survived.

  • Joker83

    October 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

    It’s a wonder why they would knock down what is ostensibly a museum to make room for more theme park rides. They could have spruced the set up a bit and made it suitable for the public to tour. I think it would have been of great interest to cinema fans to be able to tour the oldest surviving movie set in history. Universal could have monetized this into an attraction while building more rides elsewhere. What a waste.

  • October 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    They had to make room for Ghost Dad: The Ride!

  • greedo

    October 2, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    It sucks that Universal would destroy any part of any classic soundstage, past or present. That is a link to the past, and we need to preserve as much of our film history as possible.

  • October 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    make a movie about it

  • Brian Klinger

    October 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Damn. Hollywood has no respect for its own history.

  • PancreaticDefect

    October 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    The National Register of Historic Places doesn’t mean that the property owners are under any obligation to preserve anything. It’s a common misconception that a registered location is safe from the wrecking ball. I’ve seen many registered historical sites demolished in my area alone. It’s a damn shame.

  • PresidentJenkins

    October 3, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Shame to hear. You’d think Universal would use this as a easy and cheap attraction. Honestly, when I went there as a kid, they really lacked in the tours department (I’m in my mid-20s now). I’d figure they’d want to set themselves apart but I guess they prefer to be a plain amusement park.

  • October 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

    🙁 it’s a a shame it’s now lost in the pages of time

  • Rowan Grisez

    October 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    So, what is the oldest set in existence now?

  • October 5, 2014 at 2:47 am

    Aw man. Well. I got to see it while working on the lot. I took a picture, but it kind of sucked. Oh well.

  • Senna4ever

    October 6, 2014 at 7:39 am

    This is erroneous.
    They have not destroyed it, they have moved it and are preserving it.

    They have destroyed the sound stage, but the set is still perfectly fine.

  • October 6, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    That is awful, it is a shame that important parts of our past can be thrown away like that. You would think a studio that old would want to preserve a part of their history, just wow how shameful.

  • October 7, 2014 at 7:44 am


  • MikeTM

    October 9, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    It’s crazy. That’s like destroying part of the sphinx or pyramids. Such things belong to the museum, not a trash can. I mean, not all movie sets can live on. But seriously? That’s a classic!

  • Jesse Younger

    October 10, 2014 at 1:42 am

    that’s corporate america for ya!
    a bloody shame!

  • October 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Ah, man. That really sucks. I wonder what the second oldest surviving movie set is? Guess it’s number one now.

  • Claude Lilford

    October 16, 2014 at 7:54 am

    I can’t believe this, this is just criminal. When a set is that old NO ONE has the right to tear it down.

  • October 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    This is a damn shame Phantom of the opera with Lon Chaney is my favorite silent film ever


    October 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Fuck! Was it open to visitors? Doesn’t matter now but if it was I’d def make a pilgrimage just to see it. Phantom of the Opera is my favorite Universal horror film. Sucks that they would do this. It’s a part of cinematic history.

  • Robin Wise

    December 1, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Guys, they didn’t destroy the soundstage AND the Phantom of the Opera set. The Paris Opera House set was put into storage before the soundstage was destroyed. The oldest movie set in history still exists, it’s just not in the same place. It wasn’t destroyed. Universal would never destroy a movie set that is so important to history.

Leave a Reply

James’ favorites