Centre Theatre

216 16th Street,
Denver, CO 80202

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm

TCM’s Ben Hur page says there were sneak previews in Denver, Dallas, and San Diego. They don’t give the names of the theaters, or the dates, but the Center would have been a likely choice. The reels would have been flown to Denver, then to Dallas, then to San Diego, then taken back to Culver City.

The Center’s ad for that day probably would have announced a sneak preview that night, but the name of the film would have been withheld, since that’s the point of a sneak preview— the audience (except for studio employees sent to observe audience response) wouldn’t know in advance what they would see. It might have been mentioned in the paper the next day, though.

EnnisCAdkins
EnnisCAdkins on September 4, 2018 at 9:42 am

I recently read an article that stated on Sept. 4, 1959, MGM and William Wyler choose the Center Theatre in Denver to show the first sneak preview of BEN-HUR before it’s premiere in November in New York. Can anyone verify this story?

kennyjames
kennyjames on July 27, 2018 at 1:24 pm

The Centre’s last shows were Star Trek : The Motion Picture and Alien on 6/30/80. I am putting together a series of books on the history of the Denver area’s theatres and drive-ins (including a full booking history of the Centre.) If anyone has any questions on the subject, please get in touch with me at kennyjames007inbox.com. I’ll be happy to share my research with you. Thanks – Ken Mitchell.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 12, 2017 at 8:03 pm

April 16, 1954 photo added with below copy. Credits at bottom. The grand opening of Fox-Intermountain’s new Centre Theatre will be April 29 with the world premiere of “River Of No Return” The theatre will seat 1,247 persons. Photo By Cloyd Teter/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Copy credit The Denver Post.

ryan79
ryan79 on October 25, 2017 at 10:19 pm

unusual design. inside and out. saw Gone With the Wind for the first time in the seventies.sorry to learn it was demolished. 16th St had several old movie palaces and I’m sure they are long gone.

johnosse
johnosse on April 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm

I have fond memories of the Centre. I worked as an usher one year shortly after graduating from Lakewood High School in 1958. Sleeping Beauty by Disney was playing along with the Grand Canyon Suite. The lines wrapped around the corner. One line was on the east side of the theatre to buy tickets then ticket holders had to join the line on the west side of the building. My job was to make sure people were standing in the correct line. I would stand and say, in a loud voice, “this line is for people who have their tickets, if you do not have your ticket please join the line on the east side of the theatre”. After awhile everyone would join in and give the speech with me. We wore fancy uniforms like we were the palace guard. I believe the manager was Mr. Sweeten and the assistant manager was Mr. Goodenough. We were all young, good friends and good parties. John Osse

Darwyn
Darwyn on July 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm

re: Jim Sutton… yes, I remember Jim well. (at least I think it was Jim Sutton. I read Rich’s note too and now I’m unsure, but this is what I remember… perhaps he worked both theatres?) Anway, I was in college at CU Boudler and worked full time at Centre Theatre in the summer under Jim and then later when the semester started up on the weekends. I only worked about a year.. this would be around ‘71-'72 thereabouts.

I really-really liked him as a manager. He was efficient, kind, fair and treated everyone with respect. He was a coin collector and I still have a few two dollar bills and a couple of five dollar silver certificates that he allowed me to swap out for cash. I promised him I would never spend them and I haven’t to this day. I think of him everytime I take them out.

In a way, I’m hoping that Rich is wrong only because I’d rather not think of Jim as not being aorund any longer. He was such a great guy. No matter what, I’ll always remember him with fondness.

Garma
Garma on April 3, 2013 at 6:58 am

In and around 1956 my Dad was one of three managers of the Centre. The manager was Bob Sweeten and my Dad was the “house manager”. I was 12years old and he hired me to work as a page boy, which meant I removed cigarette butts from the sand urns and carried around a broom to sweep up trash. The Centre was the flagship of the Fox theater chain. The ushers and usherettes were hired from Lowry Air Force base and so there was a great deal of pride in the appearance of the staff. Managers wore tuxes and the ushers and usherettes uniforms were immaculate. What a beautiful theater it was!

bbfarmer
bbfarmer on February 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

Saw Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains the Same” here, as well as “The Big Bus”.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on July 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Looking at the auditorium and other photos, the theater’s “Skouras” remodeling made it a virtual twin to the Crest in Sacramento, right down to the sunken lower lobby; it’s also similar in many ways to the Crest in Fresno, especially the auditorium sidewall treatment.

JohnMessick
JohnMessick on May 31, 2012 at 4:40 am

What a beautiful marquee. Don’t you love the neon?

Rich Vincent
Rich Vincent on May 26, 2012 at 2:16 am

Larry,

Actually, Jim Sutton did not manage the Centre Theatre. He opened and managed the Century 21 Theatre in the late 1960’s, later becoming the City Manager for Denver and then District Manager before relocating to California. I also worked for him during that time and he truly was a wonderful man and was one of my role models as a young man in the exhibition industry. Sadly, he passed away quite a few years ago.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 14, 2010 at 3:59 am

A photo of the auditorium of the Centre Theatre was featured on the frontispiece of Boxoffice magazine’s Modern Theatre section of August 6, 1955. The curved screen was 28 feet high and 60 feet wide.

RJT70mm
RJT70mm on July 6, 2009 at 7:59 am

I have a Theatre Catalog 1954-55 with a big article on the Centre. There’s a picture of the opening night marquee. The film was “River of no Return” and although there’s no date given, the movie premiered April 30, 1954 according to IMDB.

larrygoldsmith
larrygoldsmith on January 24, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Does anyone remember when Jim Sutton managed this theatre in the early 70’s? He later left there to become district manager for No. Cal. division for National General. I remember working under him when he was DM, what a great guy he was. Would like to hear from anyone who would know where he is now.

spectrum
spectrum on June 25, 2008 at 8:48 pm

Still trying to find out what year the Centre was built. It was definitely built after 1941 (the 1942 AFI theatre listing does not include the Centre), but I don’t believe it could have been built to showcase the 1952 Cinemascope process (as mentioned above); it’s design looks too early for that. Possibly right after WW II?

williame303
williame303 on June 17, 2008 at 11:22 pm

The Centre was one of the first theatres I remember. Although it was built in the early 1950s, it was in a stylized Baroque decor. There was a balcony but it didn’t overhang the lower seats. What do they call that? Like an upper and lower shelf.

We saw There’s No Business Like Show Business in about 1954. I also remember Flower Drum Song and its fabulous opening credits with the Dong Kingman watercolors. I believe the last film I saw there was MAS*H.

MontyM
MontyM on April 18, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Trainmaster,

I would love to see more pictures of the Centre. I do remember it had a beautiful box office both outside decorated in bold gold trim, lots of neon and the marquee was big, bold and beautiful. For some reason I cannot remember the lobby?

I did see a few scope movies over the years at the Centre and do remember it having a very large wide screen. Ben Hur played there a few times during an MGM revival series every few years or so and I’m sure it played in 70mm. Personally I never seen Ben Hur there or any other 70mm feature at the Centre.

I was told that when Mann theaters closed the Centre permanently, the projectors were shipped and sent to the Chinese in Hollywood.

Monty-Denver

trainmaster
trainmaster on April 17, 2008 at 5:09 pm

To Ken MC:

That is the exact photo I was referring to. There were two photos of the theater in the “Movie Palaces” (still available from Amazon.com – not a promo) book – the other was a nighttime photo of the exterior.

Does anyone have a DAYTIME photo of the exterior – I would love to see it. Referring back to the photo Ken MC posted, either that
interior shot was taken with an extreme wide-angle lens or the screen was able to show movies with an aspect ratio larger than 235:1. If there are any more photos of the theater, including the lobby, exterior, etc. I would love to see them. Too bad this theater is gone.

Trainmaster

MontyM
MontyM on March 31, 2008 at 11:04 am

Ken MC,
thanks for sharing the photo. Seeing it brings back lot of memories. The Centre was an elegant movie house. They don’t build them like that any more. Do you have any more photos? Monty-Denver

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 30, 2008 at 8:56 am

Here is one of the photos that trainmaster was referring to on 2/19/08. Date is circa mid 70s:
http://tinyurl.com/2fskq4

MontyM
MontyM on January 22, 2008 at 1:28 pm

I don’t recall. Sometime in 1980 or 1981.

trainmaster
trainmaster on January 19, 2008 at 5:46 pm

I might direct your attention to the book “Movie Palaces” by Ave Pildas.

It has beautiful interior/exterior color photos of the Centre Theater in Denver.

By the way, when was this theater demolished?

Trainmaster

MontyM
MontyM on November 14, 2007 at 3:12 pm

The Centre was located on 16th street between Cleveland Place and Court Place, now called the 16th street mall. The building it occupied was demolished sometime in the early eighties and a ten story high-rise is in its place. I think Mann theaters was running the Centre at the time it was raised.

MontyM
MontyM on November 13, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Lost memory,

The picture posted to my knowledge is not the Centre Theater in Denver.
The Centre was a beautiful modern movie theater (at the time when it was built)
with a large screen.
I don’t know how true this is, I was told the Centre was built by 20th Century Fox to display the new CinemaScope process in 1952. I’m sure The Robe had its Denver premiere at the Centre.
I was a very young person the first time I seen a movie at the Centre.
I think it may have been the Plant of the Apes. I remember the Exorcist played for months, Gone with the Wind always seemed to playing, I even seen Star Wars there during a second run in the summer of 78.
My mother and I attended the Centre often when I was young. It was on our favorite movie theater list, along with the Denver, Paramount, Aladdin and of course the one and only fabulous Cooper Cinerama Theater.