Cooper Theatre

960 S. Colorado Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80246

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Showing 51 - 75 of 90 comments

MNBluestater on May 25, 2007 at 8:05 am

With regard to the Cooper in St. Louis Park, Minnesota (Minneapolis): The building was torn down in 1992 for an Olive Garden, which was so worth the demolition of building of historical significance in the film industry. I say that sarcastically….Last presentation was “Dances With Wolves” in January, 1991.

Coate on January 25, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Sounds like you’re a “Star Wars” fan. I predict you’ll enjoy this article:

View link

MontyM on January 24, 2007 at 8:22 am

Michael Coate

I forgot that Empire opened on Wed May 21st, 1980 and not the 20th. (Thanks for the correction) I do remember, and I was 13 at the time, Empire opened in 70mm.
In 1977 when I seen Star Wars, I did see it in both formats, 35mm and 70mm.
Thanks Monty-Denver.

neeb on January 23, 2007 at 11:39 pm

I’ve not seen this posted:

View link

Richard Crowther; Denver architect; 96

Denver architect and author Richard Crowther, who died Dec. 26 in Denver, achieved international renown for his progressive holistic compositions, particularly his pioneering designs employing passive solar energy. He was 96.

Mr. Crowther designed the Cinerama Cooper theaters in Denver, Minneapolis and Omaha, Neb. All were the first theaters designed around the then-new Cinerama technology, with cushioned seats on curving risers.

mca2 on January 23, 2007 at 6:09 pm

I too had a highly enjoyable experience watching Empire Strikes Back at the Cooper. I was 13 at the time(seemed to be the perfect target age for the “Star Wars” series)and was invited by my cousins who could pull some strings. Coming from a place where an auditorium is no more than 300-400 seats and seeing a film on 70mm was unheard of. It was an unforgettable experience, even by todays standards. Experiencing a movie as great as Empire in the Cooper with the sound and visual effects and to pull them off on such a huge screen is something that is not soon forgotten.
Hearing later in my adult life that the Cooper had been torn down was no less than a travesty.

Coate on January 23, 2007 at 4:38 pm

“The Empire Strikes Back” opened on May 21, 1980, not the 20th (although some cities ran benefit screenings on the 20th). Also, if you saw the original “Star Wars” at the Cooper in its first three months, you saw it in 35mm; they didn’t get a 70mm print until August ‘77.

MontyM on January 23, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Being a native of Denver and lived here all my life, I am very lucky as a young boy to see a wide variety of films at the Denver Cooper Theater.
The first film I remember seeing at the Cooper in 1974 was
That’s Entertainment! I was eight or nine years old, sitting in the balcony with my mother and was blown away by the experience. The screen was enormous and seemed that it never ended. The sound was coming from all areas of the auditorium. By the way, does anyone know if this presentation was 70mm 6-track? I was too young to know the difference.
Over the years I seen the original Jaws, Lucky Lady, Airport 1975, Silent Movie,
Star Wars (70mm 6-track), Close Encounters (70mm 6-track) the original Alien (70 mm 6-track) the Empire Strikes Back (70mm 6-track) I seen it the first day, first showing at 10:30am May 20th, 1980,
Return of the Jedi (70mm 6-track) it was also showing at the Continental before it caught fire, the Die Hard movies, and many more before we lost it to a Barnes and Noble book store.
I pass by the old Cooper theater site every so often and can’t help but reminisce and remember how lucky I was to be introduced to the world of cinema in such a first class way. By far this was, and will always be my favorite movie theater in Denver.

TerrySol on October 2, 2005 at 12:30 pm

I was one of the lucky ones who managed the Cooper/Cameo in the late 70’s. I would love to trade any phots of the Cooper. Please email me at

Thanks in advance

JimS on September 14, 2005 at 12:27 pm

I, too, saw “2001, A Space Odessey” in the summer of 1968 at the Denver Cooper theatre. I was spending the summer in Aspen doing an art summer school. Some buddies of mine drove down to Denver to see the film. While we were inside, being blown away by Kubrick’s amazing film – there began a forest fire on nearby Mount Evans! When we exited the theatre – we were stoned on the film – we walked into a hazy, smoky landscape. We were in hardly any shape to drive back to Aspen until we pulled ourselves together. Great theatre – they don’t, and never will, make ‘em like that anymore.

CSWalczak on August 30, 2005 at 5:22 am


The strip screen you refer to was not unique to the Cooper but was essential to proper showing of the original Cinerama films; such screens were installed in all of the original theaters that showed 3-projector Cinerama and in many that showed so-called single lens Cinerama. The angled strips prevent light from bouncing off the left side of the screen to the right (thus partially washing out the image)and vice versa; it did not have anything to with screen bowing. A fine discussion of this phenomena can be found at:
where the original Cinerama souvenir book is reproduced; there is a picture of a man behind the screen taken from an angle that reveals the strips. There is also a (sad) picture at:
View link
showing the tattered remains of the strip screen that was at Chicago’s Cinestage Theatre (nee Selwyn) which was Chicago’s third Cinerama house as well as a link to another picture that shows the anchoring plates and the precise angle at which each strip had to be set.
When the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood was restored and remodeled, many of us Cinerama purists were disappointed that the decision was made by Pacific Theaters not to restore the original strip screen. If you ever have the chance compare seeing “How the West Was Won” at the Dome versus seeing it at the restored Cinerama theatre in Seattle, you will see the difference. They are both great places to see a film though.

Cliffs on August 29, 2005 at 7:34 pm

One of the interesting things about this theater (or maybe not as I don’t know how common this was) is that the screen was actually made up of hundreds of 2" ribbons of screen hung top to bottom. During the late 80s, early 90s I worked for United Artists and all managers were invited down to the Cooper for special early exhibitor screenings (Black Rain, Total Recall, Die Hard 2). At one of these screenings we were taken all over the theater and up close to the screen where you could more easily see these ribbons (at normal viewing distance they were invisibly blended). It was explained to us that because of the Coopers' deeply curved screen, it had to be fashioned from these ribbons in order to not have the screen bow in the center. I’ve never seen that in any other theater, but perhaps it is more common than I know.

Coate on June 19, 2005 at 5:27 am

The Cooper was among the theatres included in the original limited-market launch of “Star Wars.” The Cooper’s 5/25/77 opening-day gross, according to Daily Variety, was a house record $7,966.

Coate on June 14, 2005 at 6:38 pm

“I transferred over to the Cooper/Cameo that same summer as the manager (Star Wars had been playing about a month). I honestly do not remember upgrading to 70mm; to the best of my recollection it was 70mm throughout the time that I was there.” (GaryJB)

Well, if you tranferred to the Cooper during the month of August, then by then the theater would have been running the 70mm print of “Star Wars.”

I wonder if perhaps you thought I implied the theater upgraded to 70mm that summer, whereas I was referring to the print of “Star Wars.” (The theater, of course, had had 70mm projection capability dating back to the mid ‘60s.)

GaryJB on June 14, 2005 at 12:07 am

No, I was not a projectionist. In the summer of ‘77 I was the manager of the Continental. I transferred over to the Cooper/Cameo that same summer as the manager (Star Wars had been playing about a month). I honestly do not remember upgrading to 70mm; to the best of my recollection it was 70mm throughout the time that I was there. I left the theatre business in November of that year.

There was a startup paper in Denver in ‘77, WestWord (it is still published). The feature story for the inagural edition was on the toll that the Star Wars crowds had on the theatre and staff. I have a copy stashed somewhere — if you contact WestWord, they may have photos in their files.

Coate on June 13, 2005 at 10:16 pm

“I worked at the Cooper during the 1977 Star Wars frenzy. I have some great memories of the theatre and staff. If there are other photos of the interior, I would also enjoy seeing them.” (GaryJB)

Did you work in the projection booth? Do you recall the Cooper upgrading to a 70mm presentation in August 1977, then giving up the print to the Continental in December to make way for “Close Encounters”?

I don’t have any photos of the theater’s interior, though I do have a copy of the Denver Post from the day after “Empire” opened which included a great picture of a massive line of fans with the theater and its marquee visible in the shot.

xtsubarublazin on June 13, 2005 at 7:11 pm

There was a Cooper 7 south of Columbine High School, near Coal MIne and Pierce. It has since been converted to a church but if anyone wants to drive over there, the circular roof is still visible, but it’s blue now.

dmacp on May 31, 2005 at 12:19 pm

I saw the first “Star Wars” at the Cooper. I walked there from Lowry Air Force Base when I was stationed there. I hadn’t yet learned the finer points of public transportation, coming from a rural area where the only buses I knew took you to school. This past Saturday, I saw “Revenge of the Sith” at the UA Colorado 9, just a few blocks. Kind of nice, because they have the big IMAX type tall format curved screen like the Cooper used to. Just 35mm projection though I think, not 70mm.

davequ on May 23, 2005 at 5:39 pm

I was lucky enough in the summer of ‘68 to have seen the 70mm Denver premier of Stanley Kubricks “2001” at the Cooper. It was unforgettable. I also saw “How the West was Won” and other Cinerama films there. What a shame it is gone. The inside lobby and the theater itself was also gorgeous. Much thanks to Cary (above) for sharing the link to the beautiful photographs.
Thanks Cary! and thanks to owners and webmaster of this site.

GaryJB on May 22, 2005 at 1:58 pm

I worked at the Cooper (actually the Cooper/Cameo at that time) during the 1977 Star Wars frenzy. I have some great memories of the theatre and staff. If there are other photos of the interior, I would also enjoy seeing them.

Jesse Hoheisel
Jesse Hoheisel on January 8, 2005 at 8:40 pm

Are there any other pictures of the Cooper that anyone has ahold of? That above mentioned website is great, but I’d like to see more of the lobby. Anyone?

cloeser on December 2, 2004 at 3:19 pm

Pictures of the Denver Cooper Cinerama can be found at the following link:

Have fun!

veyoung52 on November 27, 2004 at 10:54 pm

Hi, whatever happened to the photos of the exterior & interior of the Denver Cooper that were mentioned here late last year?

Quato on November 6, 2004 at 8:51 pm

I remember seeing “Empire Strikes Back” on opening day at the Cooper, and winning a contest and t-shirt (as my ticket) to get to see “Return of the Jedi” on opening day. People camped out around the building, it was great.

I was the projectionist at the Colorado Plaza 6 that opened down the street in June of 1988. The Colorado 4 was still around then too. While the Colorado Plaza 6 + Colorado 4 added some competition to the area, the Cooper still got the “big” pictures because of the bigger house, and could run 70mm easier. We only ran one film at the Colorad Plaza 6 in 70mm, which was Backdraft and it didn’t draw any additional revenue because it was in 70mm. Most “70mm” pictures back then were acutally shot through an anamorphoc lens and then “blown up”. I remember hearing that “Blues Brothers” was the last real picture shot in 70mm, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, the addition of the Colorado Plaza 6 in 1988 and the Mann Cherry Creek 8 in 1990 lead to the demise of both the Cooper and the Century 21 (a real THX house that is now a Sountrack electronics store). They just couldn’t compete for bookings, and the land got too expensive.

Gone are the days of going to a movie at the Cooper, then walking down a block to Celebrity Sports Center to play some video games.

BTW, my favorite theatres in Denver were the Cooper and the Century 21. I remember seeing movies at the Century 21 in THX such as Gettysburg that sounded awesome. Never was a big fan of the Continental, the screen always seemed so far away.

blkstarunicorn on October 27, 2004 at 5:57 pm

I remember the HUGE line that wrapped around the theater when Star Wars premiered Memorial Day weekend 1977. Afer the movie we would go up the street and grab a burger from the ‘oldest McDonalds west of the Mississippi’, then pop back down the hill and go to Celebrities' Sport Center for some bowling and video games.

BobWasserman on October 20, 2004 at 7:45 pm

What a treat to go to The Cooper. Humongous screen, magnificent sound, great sight-lines. My friend and I would go frequently just to watchtthe drapes move. My favorite experience there was watching “Thats Entertainment” playing to a full house and participating with the audience as we broke out into spontaneious applause during the film while watch scenes like Gene Kelly splashing around in “Singing in the Rain” etc. etc. I’m filled with gratitude for having had those moments. BobnDenver