Cooper Theatre

960 S. Colorado Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80246

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Showing 76 - 83 of 83 comments

RobertR on March 9, 2004 at 2:10 pm

Add to it’s demise the fact that United Artists was running it, they let the Cinema 150 here in Syosset slip away.

cloeser on March 3, 2004 at 3:54 pm

The Denver Cooper Theater was the first “Super Cinerama” theater built that was especially designed for the Cinerama 3-strip process. Construction began on May 17, 1960, with an estimated construction cost of $750,000. The theater opened on March 9, 1961 and actually cost $1,000,000 to construct, furnish, and equip. The Cooper Theater was designed by Richard Crowther. Although Mel Glatz was retained by the Cooper Foundation as a design consultant for the project, his actual contribution to the design is unknown. The theater was constructed by the Berglund-Cherne Company.

The Denver Cooper Theater had the largest movie screen in the world, at the time that it was constructed. The movie screen measured 38-feet high by 105-feet wide, built in a 146 degree arc (curve). Seating capacity was 814 seats. At the time that it was built, there were only ten Cinerama theaters in the nation. The Coooper had a number of innovations (i.e., movie theater “firsts”). For example, seats were installed in a curve, so that each seat directly faced the curved movie screen; there were no doors at the entrance to the restrooms, so that patrons could get in and out faster (there were partitions that users walked around to get to the restrooms); and the entire auditorium had small holes in the ceiling that delivered heat and air conditioning air flow, which minimized noise coming from the HVAC system.

The Denver Cooper Theater played a number of travelogues starting in 1961, including “This Is Cinerama,” “Cinerama Holiday,” and “Seven Wonders of the World.” On July 14, 1962, the theater hosted the world premier of “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.” On March 7, 1963, “How the West Was Won” started and played for 88 weeks. During the period from 1961 to 1964, all presentations were in “roadshow” format; that is, reserved seating, one or two shows presented a day, and an intermission between Act 1 and Act 2. In the Fall of 1964, the theater was converted to display 70mm presentations. In 1967, the Cooper was reconverted back to the 3-strip Cinerama process to display “The Best of Cinerama.” Afterthat, the 3-strip process was never used at the Denver Cooper again.

What’s lost in all these historical facts is that the Cooper Theater was a Denver icon. Movie viewers sometimes traveled from all over the country, just to see the Cinerama process displayed at the Denver Cooper Theater. Travel agents in other states would purchase tickets for their customers, when booking travel arrangements for people coming to Denver (the Denver Cooper had 17 ticket offices in the Rocky Mountain region). Friday, Saturday, and Sunday performances were almost always sold-out; performances during other days were either sold-out or close to being sold-out. The theater staff sat movie viewers in the aisles just to accomodate more people in the theater (until the Fire Marshall threatened to shut down the theater for this practice). The Denver Cooper garnered a reputation for being the “show piece” for the Cinerama process. It was indeed a special event to view Cinerama at the Denver Cooper Theater, and audiences knew it.

In 1994, the Denver Cooper was torned down because (1) the land that it was built on became more valuable than the theater itself, (2) movie viewers were more attracted to newer multi-screen “mega-theaters,” and (3) the building was over 30 years old and maintenance costs were increasing to the point that it was no longer profitable to keep the theater open. A large, retail book store now occupies the site. It was certainly Denver’s loss when the Cooper was razed.

jgenung on January 19, 2004 at 12:23 pm

I saw HTWWW and Mad World there in the early 60’s. Seeing 3-strip Cinerama in this beautiful venue was an incredible experience. About 3-4 years ago, I went back to Denver and interviewed two of the projectionists who worked the Cooper and published this narrative at Click on the “Nostalgia” link to read this fascinating story. As the saying goes: “They don’t build them like this anymore.” and the Cooper’s loss was a loss to motion picture history.

marco on January 14, 2004 at 2:07 pm

I grew up a few blocks from the Cooper from ~1964 on and saw most movies there (the rest I saw at the Terrace). Saw “This is Cinerama” among many others. The big excitement came when they closed HiWay 12 (now I-394) in front of the theatre to land three planes as a publicity stunt for the premiere of Airport, which was filmed in Minneapolis. My favorite memories are of my Dad who would dissappear to the little smoking lounges that ringed the insides of the theatre. The Cameo was actually a second small screen stuck on the side of the building at a later date. It was a crime that the remarkable Cooper was razed and replaced by one of the ugliest strip mall/office buildings ever built.

sdoerr on January 14, 2004 at 1:12 pm

Yes Cary we are interested in this information, please feel free to write a comment with the info, and I’ll be happy to add it.

sdoerr on December 23, 2003 at 3:43 pm

A link to the pictures would be nice, I want to see what this looks like. Too bad Barnes & Noble demolished it, for a stupid reason.

cloeser on October 29, 2003 at 12:05 pm

I have information on the Denver Cooper Theater (i.e., # seats, architect, etc.). I also have professionally-taken pictures of the exterior and interior auditorium. Are you interested in any of this information?

MikeGeater on August 6, 2001 at 1:15 pm

I watched the original “This is Cinerama” in this theatre back in the mid 1960’s in the three projector process. The round Cinerama theatres were a unique experience.