Rio Theatre

7th Street and Main Street,
Meeker, CO 81641

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Rio Theatre

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The Princess Theatre was located at 7th and Main Street in Meeker, Colorado. The Princess Theatre and was built in the early part of the 20th century.

By 1941, it had been renamed Rio Theatre, and it is thought that the name was changed to reflect the local history (rio blanco is spanish for "white river" and the White River flows through the town. Meeker is located in Rio Blanco County. The Rio Theatre was decorated in an Art Deco style.

Although Meeker was then a small town with a population of about 2,000, the theatre booked many first run and family films which were shown seven days per week. Family films were shown for three days on Sunday through Tuesday; Dramas and mysteries on Wednesday and Thursday, and westerns and adventure films on Friday and Saturday (with a Saturday afternoon matinee plus an evening showing) to appeal to youth and teens.

Many local merchants advertised via "film trailers" and newsreels and cartoons were always shown before the main feature began. Walt Disney films such as "True Life Adventures" and animated cartoons were always popular with local families. The theatre had a concession stand with popcorn, candy and soda, and a soundproof "cry room" with a window was located near the women’s rest room to permit mothers with small children to sit and watch without their children disturbing the audience.

Monthly calendars with featured films and advertisements were distributed via mail and handouts to the community, and were also advertised in the weekly paper, the Meeker Herald. In earlier years, drawings and raffles were held prior to screenings. Sometimes the theatre was used for tap/ballet dance recitals and other talent shows for local youth.

The Rio Theatre was remodeled in 1953 with addition of a curved wide screen and Panavision Super Panatar anamorphic projector lenses to show Cinemascope films. The first Cinemascope film shown was "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

Television came to the mountainous area via translators in 1957 and began to erode attendance as quality of reception improved, and color television receivers became available. The Rio Theatre remained open until the 1970’s when it was sold, and later demolished and the property sold to an abstract company where a new building was constructed.

Older theatres in adjacent towns such as Rifle and Craig have remained open over the years and continued to show popular movies.

Contributed by rda
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