Cooper Theatre

960 S. Colorado Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80246

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Original Cooper Theater Denver, Co

Opened on March 9, 1961, the 814-seat Cooper Theatre was the first of three Cinerama theatres built by the Cooper Foundation in the early-1960’s. Known as the Golden Triangle, the three theatres were located in Denver, Omaha, and Minneapolis. Complete with massive screens and the latest sound technology, all three were designed to exhibit films made in the 3-strip Cinerama process.

Renamed as the Cooper Cameo Theatre on December 25, 1975 when a second 300-seat Cameo Theatre was added to the side of the existing Cooper Theatre. The theatre later became part of the Commonwealth Theatres circuit, who franchised the Cooper name. They also built the Cooper 5, Cooper 6, Cooper 7, and Cooper Twin (none of which were Cinerama theatres), which were constructed to mimick the round, elevated roofs of the existing Cooper theatres.

Visitors came from all over to see the Cooper Theatre and its wonderous screen. But after several years of delighting audiences and packing full houses, the Cooper Theatre began to draw fewer crowds.

After Commonwealth Theatres, the Cooper Theatre was run by United Artists, who continued to operate the theatre until it was sold. Like Cinerama itself, the Cooper Theatre in Denver did not last forever. After years of changing hands, the massive theatre was finally sold to Barnes & Noble, who razed it in 1994 to build a new store.

Recent comments (view all 102 comments)

Rich Vincent
Rich Vincent on July 3, 2018 at 12:30 am
 Wanted to add some comments to the description at the top.  It is correct that the Cooper was one of the trio of theatres built by the Cooper Foundation.
                
                   However, the article fails to mention that these 3 theatres were designed and built to be "Super Cinerama" theatres.  Up until that time, Cinerama was a film format that was retrofitted into existing theatres, which inevitably required some compromises.  The Cooper was designed to present Cinerama in an ideal situation, complete with a stepped stadium seating area much like an IMAX theatre to maximize the impact of the "you are there" experience.  Attention was paid to every detail, including repeating the curved theme of the screen and round auditorium with a round smoking area at each side of the auditorium, a bubble design in the carpet, a circular concession stand and even a round ticket box.
                
                   I was the city manager for United Artists Theatres when the Cooper closed (a heart breaking day...)and recall standing in the center of the auditorium just after the screen, curtain and seats were removed and was struck by the fact that even bare the room felt like a perfect place to see a film.
                
                  Ironically, the theatre was never an unsuccessful theatre although UA had problems booking it in its last years.  Its demise came because UA had a real estate department that functioned separately from theatre operartions, and they realized that the land was more valuable than the profit the theatre was generating.  Hence the property was placed on the market, to be purchased by Barnes and Noble, who wanted a location near the legendary Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver (one of the largest in the country) for a flagship store.
                  
Chazzmania
Chazzmania on July 3, 2018 at 4:54 am

Rich Vincent. I worked for Jim Townley at the Cooper in 82. I believe the two of you were friends. Do you know where Jim is today? He would contact me when he’d come to Denver through the late 80’s then I lost touch. I was his assistant manager along with Chris Delanoy who worked for you later at Imax.

Rich Vincent
Rich Vincent on July 5, 2018 at 3:24 am

Chazzmania – Yes, Jim was my best friend and the finest person I have ever known and dearly loved the Cooper. We literally grew up in the industry together. You and I must have met because I managed the Century 21 when he was at the Cooper. Sadly, he passed away about 20 years ago. I recall Chris as well. Where is she these days?

Chazzmania
Chazzmania on July 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

I understand your thoughts about Jim being the finest person you’ve ever known, I feel the same way. Chris and I have remained friends all these years. Jim comes up in conversation often as we both were touched by him in our lives, by his passion & humor. We had suspected that Jim was no longer with us but had no way of verifying that. Thank you for helping us bring closure to our search. Hope you are happy and well!

Chazzmania
Chazzmania on July 5, 2018 at 9:08 am

Rich. One more question… is Jim buried in Boulder, CO? We found a listing for James D. Townley, 08 Oct 1950-07 Dec 1993, interred at Green Mountain Cemetery in Boulder. Chris and I are touched at the news of Jim’s passing and would like to pay our respects to him if this is his final resting place. Thanks!

Chazzmania
Chazzmania on August 22, 2018 at 8:20 am

Rich Vincent. Janet Townley and I are in communications with each other. She is asking about you. Is there are a way for us to connect outside this message board so I can get you her information?

MSC77
MSC77 on May 6, 2019 at 8:47 pm

Opened March 9, 1961

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 5, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Hello from NYC-

during the prime roadshow period of (1952-1972) which Denver theaters did the studios regularly use for their roadshow engagements? Manhattan had 7.

kennyjames
kennyjames on July 30, 2019 at 11:45 am

The note in your introduction about the Cooper Cameo theatre being added in February 1977 is about a year off. The Cameo opened on Christmas Day, 1975. I am currently putting together a series of books on the history of the Denver area’s drive-ins – and indoors as well. If anyone has a question on the subject, please feel free to contact me at and i’ll be happy to share my research with you. See you at the movies ! – Ken Mitchell

MSC77
MSC77 on July 31, 2019 at 8:53 am

bigjoe59…

ALADDIN
Porgy and Bess
Can-Can
Spartacus
Lawrence of Arabia
The Longest Day
The Sound of Music
The Sand Pebbles
Camelot
Star!
Patton
Song of Norway
Fiddler on the Roof
Man of La Mancha
Last Tango in Paris

CENTRE
Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Sweet Charity

CENTURY 21
The Happiest Millionaire
Half a Sixpence
Oliver!
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Nicholas and Alexandra

CONTINENTAL
The Agony and the Ecstasy
The Bible
Doctor Dolittle
Funny Girl
Hello, Dolly!

COOPER
This is Cinerama
Seven Wonders of the World
Cinerama Holiday
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
How the West Was Won
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Circus World
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Khartoum
The Best of Cinerama
Grand Prix
Far from the Madding Crowd
Custer of the West
2001: A Space Odyssey
Ice Station Zebra
Krakatoa, East of Java
Paint Your Wagon

CREST
The Taming of the Shrew

DENHAM
The Ten Commandments
Ben-Hur
Exodus
El Cid
King of Kings
West Side Story
Mutiny on the Bounty
Cleopatra
The Fall of the Roman Empire
Mediterranean Holiday
My Fair Lady
Doctor Zhivago
Hawaii
Gone with the Wind (’67 re-issue)
Finian’s Rainbow
The Shoes of the Fisherman
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Ryan’s Daughter
The Great Waltz

ESQUIRE
The Blue Max
Is Paris Burning?
The Lion in Winter
Young Winston

INTERNATIONAL 70
Becket
Cheyenne Autumn
The Hallelujah Trail
Holiday in Spain
Mediterranean Holiday
Battle of the Bulge
Russian Adventure

TABOR
Oklahoma!
Around the World in 80 Days
South Pacific
Windjammer

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