Continental 10

3635 S. Monaco Parkway,
Denver, CO 80237

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Continental Theater, Denver, CO November 1995

Viewing: Photo | Street View

United Artists' Continental Theatre stands as Denver’s last remaining giant screen movie house. Along with the Cooper and Century 21 theatres, The (then) Commonwealth Continental was one of Denver’s premiere showcase theatres throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, with a screen that measured 35'x 83'. Seating for the theatre was originally 916.

The theatre played host to dozens of large screen 70mm presentations over the decades including “Die Hard”, the original “Star Wars” trilogy, “The Abyss”, and “Terminator 2”. With the right booking, the Continental could be responsible for 35% of a film’s business in the city of Denver.

In 1983, during its run of “Return of the Jedi”, the theatre fell victim to a fire that destroyed part of it. The following day’s Rocky Mountain News contained a front page photo of theater workers rushing the 70mm print of “Jedi” out of the theatre to safety. During the fire, all of the projector lenses (except the 70mm lens, which was in use) were destroyed. The new lenses for 35mm put to use after the fire were inadequate for the theater’s long throw distance and, because of this, all 35mm presentations on the screen would require severe masking on all four sides to accommodate the smaller image size. The estimate is that 35mm reduced the screen size to 23'x 55'.

In 1994, for an exclusive engagement of “The Shawshank Redemption”, lenses from a recently closed drive-in were put to use at the Continental for the 35mm presentation and all films shown since 1994 have again utilized the full screen size.

In November 1995, the Continental closed for an extensive remodel/expansion. The theater reopened in June of 1996 with five new screens (several THX approved) built around it. During this remodel, the seating was reduced to 869 to accommodate new handicap accessible seating. In 2008, the number of screens was increased to ten.

Contributed by Cliff Stephenson

Recent comments (view all 54 comments)

JRed
JRed on February 11, 2011 at 6:05 am

Today the Continental will have a soft opening of the big screen as an “RPX” auditorium, Regal’s proprietary name for “movies dun rite”. First and foremost this means you will be paying more for any ticket to the #5 auditorium.

New features include leather seating to enhance your moviegoing enjoyment, replacing the screen with “something larger”, all QSC amps (which it already had as do most auditoriums in the entire Denver metro area) and a 102 speaker system (please note that this won’t be 102 actual speakers, they are counting the individual drivers in each speaker. So a single 3-way speaker would count as 3 speakers with Regal’s deceptive math).

No word yet on if they are still showing film or if they put digital in. Screen illumination has always been an issue at this theater so I would think they’d have to put in something really nice for a new, bigger screen. No word if the new screen will retain the D150 curve.

JRed
JRed on February 11, 2011 at 6:09 am

UPDATE: Yup, digital projection has been installed as well as 3D.

JoelWeide
JoelWeide on February 11, 2011 at 6:31 am

On Regal’s web site they do not list which auditorium has the huge D-150 screen. It is just a standard listing of whats showing and at what time. Since adding the stadium seating I’ve always wondered how that auditorium turned out. Any comments would be appreciated.

JRed
JRed on February 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Auditorium #5 is the D150 screen (not sure if it still has that curve after the RPX retrofit). It is showing the Justin Beeber concert movie. The large screen will now always be identified by the “RPX” tag.

I’d also be curious to hear first-hand impressions.

CapnRob
CapnRob on August 8, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I loved the original Continental. Saw a worn red print of Wrath of Kahn there about 2 years ago. It made me really miss the old days of giant single screen theaters.

Logan5
Logan5 on February 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm

According to the book Future Noir: The Making of “Blade Runner” by Paul M. Sammon, the first sneak preview of “Blade Runner” was held at the Continental on Friday, March 5, 1982. Other sneaks were at the Northpark in Dallas (3/6/82) & the Cinema 21 in San Diego (5/8/82).

Rich Vincent
Rich Vincent on May 26, 2012 at 2:58 am

I managed the Continental during most of the 1990’s including the first remodel and there are a couple of inaccuracies I want to correct. I know nothing about 35mm replacement lenses being inadequate and replaced for Shawshank Redemption. The same lenses were used throughout my tenure. Part of the design of D-150 was that other film formats were never allowed to come close to filling the screen, 35mm in particular. We did at one time experiment with using a different lens size to enlarge the picture but it was too washed out.

Indeed, the D-150 lenses were still in the booth when I left although they wer extremely scratched and unusable from years of neglect.

The D-150 screen was removed after the fire in 1983. The replacement screen was shorter in height by several feet and quite a bit shorter in length since the format was obsolete, although it retained quite a bit of the D-150’s belly. The original D-150 screen literally extended around the front rows of the theatre, similar to Cinerama.

Auditorium #5 is indeed the original auditorium, which I fondly referred to as “Old Main” after the remodel.

The 70 mm presentations did make the Continental a powerhouse in Denver. The Continental actually grossed over 50% of the Denver area gross out of 10 theatres on “The Abyss”.

jmg24601
jmg24601 on July 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm

When the theater reopened in October after the fire, it hosted the premier for Brainstorm.

jmg24601
jmg24601 on July 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm

When the theater reopened in October after the fire, it hosted the premier for Brainstorm.

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