Remembering Cinerama (Part 35: Denver)

posted by Coate on July 13, 2009 at 7:50 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part 35: Denver

The following is Part Thirty-Five in a series of retrospectives on Cinerama, the legendary motion picture process that kicked off the widescreen revolution. The series focuses on providing a market-by-market historical record of when and where Cinerama and its multi-panel clones were exhibited. The easy-to-reference articles serve to provide nostalgia to those who experienced the Cinerama presentations when they were new and to highlight the movie palaces in which the memorable events took place.

Part 1: New York City
Part 2: Chicago
Part 3: San Francisco
Part 4: Houston
Part 5: Washington, DC
Part 6: Los Angeles
Part 7: Atlanta
Part 8: San Diego
Part 9: Dallas
Part 10: Oklahoma City
Part 11: Syracuse
Part 12: Toronto
Part 13: Columbus
Part 14: Montreal
Part 15: Northern New Jersey
Part 16: Charlotte
Part 17: Vancouver
Part 18: Salt Lake City
Part 19: Boston
Part 20: Philadelphia
Part 21: Fresno
Part 22: Detroit
Part 23: Minneapolis
Part 24: Albuquerque
Part 25: El Paso
Part 26: Des Moines
Part 27: Miami
Part 28: Orange County
Part 29: Pittsburgh
Part 30: Baltimore
Part 31: Long Island
Part 32: Kansas City
Part 33: Milwaukee
Part 34: Nanuet/Rockland County

And now… Part 35: Cinerama Presentations in Denver!

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Tabor
Premiere Date: December 18, 1958 (Mountain States Premiere)
Engagement Duration: 15 weeks
Projection Format: CineMiracle
Promotional Hype: “You’ve never seen ANYTHING like it before!” “CINEMIRACLE makes the screen come alive!” “The only 3-projector giant screen system in the Rocky Mountain area!”

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: March 9, 1961 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 32 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The beautiful new Cooper…only theatre of its kind in the world…presents the only new wonder of the entertainment world” “THIS IS CINERAMA shown exclusively in the Rocky Mtn. area at the Cooper”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: October 20, 1961 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 32 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD as seen through the greatest wonder…CINERAMA!” “Never shown in a neighborhood theatre…never on T.V.”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: June 1, 1962
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “It’s Every Holiday You Ever Dreamed Of…Come True!”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: August 8, 1962 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 30 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The first dramatic story-telling motion picture in fabulous CINERAMA!”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: March 7, 1963 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 85 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: October 29, 1964
Duration: 51 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!”

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: International 70
Premiere: July 1, 1965 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!”

HOLIDAY IN SPAIN
Theater: International 70
Premiere: September 23, 1965 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 4 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Hang On…As CINERAMA Hurls You Into Intrigue And Mystery In Spain On The Adventure Hunt Of Your Life!”

MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY
Theater: International 70
Premiere: October 19, 1965
Duration: 3 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Exciting…eye-opening…stunning…brilliant and thrilling…a delightful cruise!” (The New York Times review quote)

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: October 21, 1965
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Surrounds You With The Greatest Thrill-Packed Story Ever Filmed!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: December 21, 1965
Duration: 26 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Presented in CINERAMA” “A Rich, Rewarding Entertainment Experience for the Entire Family”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: International 70
Premiere: December 22, 1965 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Finally the super action show in SUPER CINERAMA hurling you headlong into the sight and might of the most amazing forces ever unleashed”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: International 70
Premiere: March 30, 1966 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “It is more than you have ever seen…more than you have ever known of adventure…as the original CINERAMA brings you the entertainment achievement of a lifetime!”

KHARTOUM
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: June 20, 1966 (American/Golden Triangle Co-Premiere*)
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great CINERAMA Adventure Begins!”

THE BEST OF CINERAMA
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: November 2, 1966
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “It’s CINERAMA’s Greatest Moments In One Far-Flung, Fantastic, Unforgettable Adventure!”

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: January 25, 1967 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 40 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA sweeps YOU into a drama of speed and spectacle!”

CUSTER OF THE WEST
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: January 25, 1968 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Now CINERAMA Makes It All Live Again!”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: April 10, 1968 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 42 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “An epic drama of adventure and exploration!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: January 29, 1969
Duration: 17 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA
Theater: Cooper
Premiere: July 16, 1969 (Mountain States Premiere)
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Hurls You Into The Incredible Day That Shook The Earth To Its Core!”

NOT SHOWN IN CINERAMA IN THE DENVER MARKET:
SEARCH FOR PARADISE
SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
THIS IS CINERAMA 1973 re-issue

TRIVIA:
Denver’s Cooper was the first purpose-built Cinerama movie theater. All Cinerama engagements in other markets prior to the opening of the Cooper were held in theaters retrofit for Cinerama presentation.

The world press preview of THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM was held at the Cooper on July 14, 1962.

The HOLIDAY IN SPAIN engagement included the Cinerama short film JET-AGE WAR IN THE ALPS.

*The “Golden Triangle” consisted of the Cooper Foundation’s Cinerama venues in Denver, Minneapolis and Omaha. The United States premiere of KHARTOUM took place simultaneously in each of those markets.

Compiled by Vince Young & Michael Coate

References: Boxoffice, Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Variety

Comments (11)

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 13, 2009 at 10:17 am

The Cooper was the first Cinerama theater I was aware of outside of my home area (Northern NJ and NYC), because in the 1970 book “The Making of Kubrick’s 2001” there was a photo of four ticket stubs from the Cooper that had been returned by a Denver family. They were asking for a refund because the movie was so boring. I guess they were more “Transformers” kind of people. I wonder if they’d changed their minds about “2001” in the intervening years, like so many of its original detractors did.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm

And here’s the page from the book:

View link

To any Attard family members: are you out there?

JSA
JSA on July 14, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Was the Cooper’s Cinerama screen the largest ever built?

Bill: The telegram from Zeffirelli is a hoot! What a compliment from one master to another.

JSA

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on July 15, 2009 at 5:27 am

JSA: on the next page of the book is another congratulatory telegram to Stanley, from Fellini himself:

View link

JSA
JSA on July 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Thanks Bill. Great stuff! I enjoyed Astronaut Anders comment as well. But I think Bob Wright’s note captures best the spirit of those who loved the movie back in 1968.

JSA

Knucklehead
Knucklehead on July 18, 2009 at 12:09 am
  1. I’m confused why only some of the entries say “Mountain States Premiere.” Denver is located in the Rocky Mountain States area, so why wouldn’t all of the entries include that claim?

  2. You mention as a trivia item that the Cooper was the first “purpose built” Cinerama theatre, but wasn’t the Syosset Theatre on Long Island (and mentioned in Part 31 of this series) the first “purpose built” Cinerama theatre?

Coate
Coate on July 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm

1) The “Mountain States” area, in the context of this Cinerama series, consists of Colorado (Denver), Utah (Salt Lake City) and New Mexico (Albuquerque). If in the above Denver list there’s a “Mountain States Premiere” notation, that means that Denver had the earliest booking of that particular title among the three Cinerama markets in the Mountain States region. Likewise, if there’s no “Mountain States Premiere” notation on a particular entry, then that means the earliest booking of that particular film took place in either Salt Lake City or Albuquerque.

2) No. The Syosset Theater, which opened in 1956, was purpose-built for Todd-AO (70mm) presentations. It was retrofit in 1959 for Cinerama presentations.

writerwals
writerwals on August 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm

What a sad day when Denver decided to tear down the RKO International 70 Theater. For a parking lot! Yes, and not even a multi-layered parking lot either…just a flat lot. I worked as a cashier at the theater while going to high school in Denver. Great memories. There was a huge grand piano in the orchestra pit, along with a huge organ, which I never heard played. I wonder if these instruments were saved. Very sad to think that all of the enormous art deco mirrors and everything else was dumped.

JSReno
JSReno on October 29, 2011 at 12:31 am

I adored the Cooper Theater and this was a wonderful history. I was born the year before it was built and I wish I could have seen all the films listed here on that wonderful screen. The only thing I can offer is this, the Cooper in Denver, DID show the “THIS IS CINERAMA 1973 re-issue”. It was the first movie I ever saw there and I saw it at least three times. At the time I didn’t realize it was the last hurrah for that format, but to this day I recall it in great detail, especially the Cypress Garden section.

marxvideo
marxvideo on December 29, 2012 at 9:28 am

I attended showings three times at the Cooper. The first was for “The Hunt For Red October”. Next it was the revival of “Ben-Hur” — talk about big screen splendor in full 65mm glory. Most every DVD cuts off about a hundred Roman soldiers spead to either edge in some scenes. I recall the curtains were lit from below, gold sections rising straight up alternating, I believe, with maroon, shimmering — they pulled heavily straight to left and right — very modern; no rise. There was a smoking area in an elevated section to house left, and I never smelled smoke because of the excellent environmental system. The chariot race blew me away on that size a screen, easily the best of all the many showings of “Ben-Hur” I attended over the years. The third time was for the premier of a film I was Second Unit Director on — “Kill Line” with Bobby Kim — a Denver area Tae Kwon Do instructor of tremendous ability, completely wasted in this film. I felt a little sad to see it there — a magnificent theater completely wasted on such a poor movie. Shortly after that, the Cooper closed.

marxvideo
marxvideo on December 29, 2012 at 9:28 am

I attended showings three times at the Cooper. The first was for “The Hunt For Red October”. Next it was the revival of “Ben-Hur” — talk about big screen splendor in full 65mm glory. Most every DVD cuts off about a hundred Roman soldiers spead to either edge in some scenes. I recall the curtains were lit from below, gold sections rising straight up alternating, I believe, with maroon, shimmering — they pulled heavily straight to left and right — very modern; no rise. There was a smoking area in an elevated section to house left, and I never smelled smoke because of the excellent environmental system. The chariot race blew me away on that size a screen, easily the best of all the many showings of “Ben-Hur” I attended over the years. The third time was for the premier of a film I was Second Unit Director on — “Kill Line” with Bobby Kim — a Denver area Tae Kwon Do instructor of tremendous ability, completely wasted in this film. I felt a little sad to see it there — a magnificent theater completely wasted on such a poor movie. Shortly after that, the Cooper closed.

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