Cooper Theatre

960 S. Colorado Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80246

Unfavorite 26 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 83 comments

Denvercary
Denvercary on March 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I have three Cinerama projectors and a Cinerama sound reproducer like the ones that were installed at the three Cooper Cinerama Theaters during the three-strip Cinerama days. If anybody would like to see them, please contact me at . I would be happy to show them to you. Or, I’ll be happy to send photographs to you.

Lincolnman
Lincolnman on October 5, 2013 at 12:56 am

My first experience at the Denver Cooper was to see “How the West Was Won”, really the last three strip commercial movie shown. At the time I was a 15 year old farm kid from Nebraska. To say I was impressed would be an under statement. I managed to see that movie twice at the Cooper and my memories are rich and wonderful. It is hard to believe that it and the other two Cooper’s were all destroyed and lost forever. The one in Omaha was purchased by the Methodist Hospital and although many organizations attempted to save it, it became a parking lot for the hospital. Sad as they were all magnificent theaters.

DShevlin
DShevlin on August 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Chazzmania – I worked a the Cooper/Cameo beginning in 1984. If you are Dave L., then I remember you. I have very fond memories of working there. Even though the staff changed frequently, there was always a lot of laughter and fun. My husband and I met there, though I think that was after you left. Anyway, if you are interested, you can contact me on Facebook. – Deb

darrenparlett
darrenparlett on August 23, 2013 at 2:26 am

These are stories i love reading about…peoples own cinema experiences (instead of petty corrections as I commonly see happen often on this site. Keep those stories coming…i want to know :–)

kornpopper76
kornpopper76 on August 23, 2013 at 2:05 am

My first movie at the Cooper Cinerama was in 1965, “Its a Mad Mad World”. I was with my high school senior class on the senior class trip from the San Luis Valley to the big city.

The last movie I saw there was “Gettysburg” on Thanksgiving Day, 1993. Shortly after that, the theatre was closed and then demolished.

Chazzmania
Chazzmania on July 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I worked at The Cooper/Cameo in the early 80’s. It was a magical place for a young guy from Nebraska. I was there for Blade Runner, The World According to Garp, Pink Floyd The Wall, Airplane the Sequel just to name a few. I would love to reconnect with Jim Townley the Cooper’s manager or any staff from that time.

I have a very warm place in my heart for that theater and am saddened every time I drive by the Barnes & Noble that replaced it on Colorado Blvd.

jmg24601
jmg24601 on July 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm

To comment further on MichealAD Bad-I saw Hudson Hawk there. Good-I saw Star Wars, Empire, Jedi, Close Encounters, Roger Rabbit, and the Flamingo Kid next door at the Cameo, so I guess that makes up for Hawk

dcarty
dcarty on May 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Another amazing theater lost to time and commerce.

I saw The Empire Strikes back there in 1980 (my Uncle took my brother and me). The last movie I saw there was the 25th Anniversary re-issue of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

MissaLick
MissaLick on April 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Awesome theater! I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey here in 1968 as a reserved-seat roadshow presentation with my grandparents, parents and kid sister. Waited in line to to see Star Wars (just “Star Wars” – no “A New Hope”), Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Alien all first show opening day. Hid in the bathroom so I could slip back in to see Star Wars a second consecutive time that first day and returned to see it many more times in 1977. Damn shame they demolished this one.

Cliffs
Cliffs on April 7, 2013 at 4:15 am

That’s probably very true Michael. I think most balconies are closed during slow periods/showtimes. It keeps the theater staff from having to clean the theater between shows on 2 different levels when attendance is low and staffing light.

It’s amazing to me that we spent the last 25 or so years destroying all of these majestic, giant screen palaces only to now see all of the chains trying to rebuild and rebrand new giant screens (RPX, EXT, XD) to get audiences back. Did we tear down all these amazing houses only to see them rebuilt, but not quite as well?

MichaelAD
MichaelAD on April 5, 2013 at 10:38 am

Thanks for adding your memories Cliff. I had another thought this morning – I almost always went to matinees to avoid the traffic that I mentioned in my first post. I’ll bet they opened the balcony for evening and night screenings. We sure are lucky to have had this theatre in out past!!

Cliffs
Cliffs on April 5, 2013 at 6:02 am

Yeah, the balcony remained opened (at least for big movies) to the end. I sat up there only once, for Die Hard 2 in July 1990. I worked for United Artists late 80s/early 90s and we had a couple company meetings at the Cooper. Was lucky enough to see early screenings of Total Recall (which never actually played at the Cooper, it opened at the Continental) and Black Rain. First trip to the Cooper was Return of the Jedi in ‘83. Quite an experience for a 12 year old. It was a gem of a theater and a crime that it’s gone.

MichaelAD
MichaelAD on April 5, 2013 at 1:28 am

Thanks for your post and memories Monty. I definitely remember That’s Entertainment. My dad and mom were big fans of those musicals. When I think back to my age at the time that may have been one of the last times that the whole family went to a film together. You could be right about the balcony – I just always remember the seeing the “Section Closed” ropes across the stairs. Maybe they opened it whenever they sold enough tickets to need the seats. Thanks again and cheers.

MontyM
MontyM on April 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Great post Michael AD. I have great memories of the Cooper Theater myself.

The first movie I seen at the Cooper was That’s Entertainment in 1974, I was mature nine years old. Was too young to see the original Star Wars on May 25th, 1977, had to wait for mom to take me on my birthday in June. Although I did see the Empire Strikes Back opening day May 21st, 1980, (10:30-10:45am) showing.

I skipped school with some of my buddies that day and caught the RTD bus at 7am. As the bus approached the top of the small incline in front of Celebrity Lanes, I Could see the Cooper’s theater marquee on the left side bus. What a site to see, (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) with all the show times listed blow including (IN 70MM & 6 Track Dolby Stereo) and the line around the building to the south side.

Other fans making breakfast runs to McDonalds for other die hard Star Wars fans. I also remember a channel 4 mobile truck pulling up to the theater, setting up a desk on the lawn under the Cooper’s marquee with reporters getting ready to do the 11am live news cast.

If I remember correctly the balcony was never permanently closed. The last time I sat upstairs was when Dances with Wolves played there moving over from the Continental Theater.

MichaelAD
MichaelAD on April 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

My thanks to those of you who have posted here previously. Especially to those with links to other pics of this treasure

Here are several of my memories for your perusal.

Bad – other than the fact that it was torn down to make way for a B&N the main bad one is what a pain it was to get in and out of the parking lot. The parking behind the theater was adequate except for the biggest sellouts but there were only two exits both onto Colorado Blvd and if someone was insisting on turning left across the traffic you could be there a looooong time. I do remember that, by the late 90’s they had opened a few exists at the back of the lot but they rarely had sellouts by then.

Good – the viewing experience really was a marvel. All of the sci-fi films were better there than any other theater – the Continental and Century 21 were tip top but still not quite as good. For my money, while Imax is amazing, it doesn’t achieve the same things that Cinerama did. I know this is just me being an old foggie because Imax is just fine but it isn’t the same for me.

Other – if you look at the pictures of the interior of the theater you will see alcoves with benches on either side of the main seating area. When it first opened these actually had snack stands in them. I don’t think this lasted very long as I am sure that the noise was a problem for those sitting close to them but I do remember them being there. Later they were used as smoking areas until the indoor smoking bans came along. You can also see pics of the balcony and the stairs leading to it. I’m pretty sure that I only sat up there once and I remember getting a bit of a headache as the curve of the screen distorted the picture a bit from that angle. By the late 70’s I’m pretty sure that is was permanently closed.

I saw the 1st three Star Wars films there on the first showing on their opening days and I have found that peoples memories of that first day back in ‘77 has gotten a bit confused. It opened on Wed May 25th and the very 1st showing was somewhere between noon and one thirty. I drove down with a bunch of frat brothers and we walked in about fifteen minutes before the film started and got good seats quite easily. The theater was only half to two thirds full. People seem to forget that a) that was a school day and b) nobody new what Star Wars was yet. Now I am not saying that by that evening – and certainly by that weekend – that there weren’t long lines to get in and each showing was a sellout, its just that did not happen on the very first showing. On a different note I’ll wonder how many young people would be able to understand, or imagine, a blockbuster film only opening at one theater and playing for months, or years (a la The Sound of Music which played at the Aladdin for something like two and a half years) on end.

One other tidbit – most of the films that showed there in the 60’s had an overture, entre act (or intermission) and closing music (that went on beyond the end of the credits.) One of the extras on the DVD box set for How the West Was Won mentions that one of the factors that went into length of that music was how long it took the massive curtains to open and close across that immense screen.

Cheers to all

Lucretia
Lucretia on April 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Star Wars. The ‘reserved only’ night premier of The Empire Strikes Back. Alien (6th row back, to the right of the center section, too terrified to put my feet down and needing a restroom break but no way I was leaving that seat!)Anything that needed a full immersion experience was beyond amazing here. IMAX has always kind of seemed like a poor substitute for the experiences of seeing things in the Cooper back in the day. Thanks for the link to that link to the Boxoffice archive @Tinseltoes – it was a gold mine! Wish I could get my hands on the full architectural plans! :)

thx151
thx151 on December 25, 2012 at 11:39 am

Only place to really enjoy Star Wars. Packed,I sat dead center front row, screen and sound system was off the chart. That theater made those movies. Alien was also off the chart as well as Pink Floyd “The Wall”.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Two color photos are included in this 1961 trade article describing the new theatre: Boxoffice

taosjedi
taosjedi on April 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I saw Tron and Purple Rain here, Tron was awesome!

mondojustin
mondojustin on November 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Hello I’m currently working on a book about the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and am looking for photos and programs/newspaper clippings etc from each city in which the film premiered in originally in 1968. If you saw the film in it’s initial run in the theater have a good memory of your experience, I’d love to interview you about seeing it. To date I have interviewed over 20 people that have worked on the film, and several close members in the Kubrick camp as well. If you can help please email me at

swdailey
swdailey on November 9, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I, too, saw “2001” at the Denver Cooper in 1968. I was 9 years old and unfortunately fell asleep at some point (but I remember bits and pieces of the showing). My family was on vacation in Colorado at the time. We also ate at the Yum-Yum Tree, which I believe was on the same road. Years later I was on vacation in Denver again and saw “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Truly a shame the building is gone.

Coate
Coate on July 30, 2009 at 11:24 am

Denver’s complete CINERAMA exhibition history has been included in the “Remembering Cinerama” series and is posted here.

telliott
telliott on July 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Why couldn’t Barnes & Noble convert this spectacular theatre to a book store as was done with the Alabama in Houston and the Runnymede in Toronto. What a great book store that would have made!

Coate
Coate on June 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Monty-Denver…my email address is listed under Contact Info in my profile. Just click on my name at the bottom of this post to access the profile page.

kpdennis
kpdennis on June 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I am almost positive this is a shot of the concession stand – newly renovated at the time – at the Cooper Twin, circa 1993. If anyone can verify that from this unfortunately dark exposure, I’d appreciate it!
View link