Cooper Theatre

960 S. Colorado Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80246

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Cooper Twin, Denver CO 1993

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The Cooper Theatre was the first of three Cinerama theaters built by the Cooper Foundation in the early-1960’s. Known as the Golden Triangle, the three theaters 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 by the 1970’s, the theater 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 theaters), which were constructed to mimick the round, elevated roofs of the existing Cooper theaters.

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 theater until it was sold. Like Cinerama itself, the Cooper Theatre in Denver did not last forever. After years of changing hands, the massive theater was finally sold to Barnes & Noble, who razed it in 1994 to build a new store.

Recent comments (view all 97 comments)

Coate
Coate on July 6, 2017 at 10:27 am

Does anyone remember if Disney’s “Tron” played here in summer 1982 and/or during its autumn ‘82 re-release?

Chazzmania
Chazzmania on July 6, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Tron did not play at the Cooper. I am fairly certain I saw Tron at The Century or The Continental.

Coate
Coate on October 8, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Anyone recall which big summer 1978 movie played here at the Cooper? “Grease”? “Jaws 2”? “Heaven Can Wait”? Other?

MSC77
MSC77 on April 10, 2018 at 9:55 am

Fifty years ago today, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” premiered here.

To celebrate the occasion, I’m sharing the link to a new retrospective article on “2001.” This and many other cinemas get a mention in the piece.

DanaQualley
DanaQualley on April 30, 2018 at 10:34 pm

The Cooper in Minnesota had a Cameo also.

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!

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