Century 21

1370 S. Colorado Boulevard,
Denver, CO 80222

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Built in the late-1960’s, the Century 21 Theatre was a single screen, 1,065 seat movie theatre. It was a first run house through the 1970’s, 1980’s and early-1990’s.

In the late-1980’s it was renovated to be a genuine THX house an was often booked specifically for action and science fiction films because of it’s big screen and incredible sound system. It closed in 1993, and is now a Soundtrack electronics store.

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Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

Rich Vincent
Rich Vincent on May 26, 2012 at 1:42 am

I spent a large percentage of my career working at the Century 21, including helping set up the theatre before it opened and returning years later to manage it.

It was originally built as a roadshow theatre with 70 mm capability and was a remarkable theatre in many ways. Not the least of which was its design. There were no 90 degree right angles or parallel walls in the entire building. Not only did this contribute to a modernistic design, it had practical applications for the auditorium by controlling sound bounce between walls. It was also the first theatre in the region to offer Dolby Stereo, which was installed for Streisand’s “A Star Is Born”.

I do not recall Snow White as being the first film, although it did play there during its first year of operation along with “Quiller Memorandum”, “Gambit” and “Casino Royale”. The very, very first film to play there was “A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Forum”, which ran for one night as a special invitational preview for the theatre before it opened to the public. As I recall the first roadshow film to run in the theatre was Disney’s “Happiest Millionaire”.

The Cooper Theatre was located only 4 blocks north of the Century 21. This created problems when they both offered reserved seats on roadshows because customers would purchase tickets for one theatre in advance and then attend the other by mistake, probably confused by the “C” in the names. Periodically they would even get past the doorman (sorry, that’s what they were called in those days), and the usher would realize the error when they couldn’t locate the seat numbers!

It’s heyday came years later when the capability to run “black track soundtracks” was installed. This meant the theatre could run rough cuts of films before the soundtrack was added to the print, allowing it to run advance previews of films. A number of studios used it to show test screenings which would be attended by the stars, producers, directors and studio execs. Dino De Laurentiis tested both “Hurricane” and “King Kong” at the Century 21 and said it was his favorite theatre for previews.

Dantonoff: I think I met your grandfather once at the theatre. I may even have some photos that I can share for your archives if there is a way to contact you.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 25, 2012 at 6:10 am

Ironically, this never survived as a cinema into the 21st century. Described in this 1967 trade article: Boxoffice

ptesone
ptesone on September 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in ‘81 in 70mm, one of the best movie experiences in my life, the sound was amazing and loud, I was 14 back then. Now I’m watching the re-release 31 years later in an IMAX theater in Spokane WA. We’ll see how it fares…

orange
orange on November 22, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Funny, isn’t it so funny. I was one of the first kids to walk through that movie theater when it opened in 1967. My uncle, Royale Milo, who designed the lighting and drapery of that theater gave me a private tour. Richard Crowther the architect of the building worked with my uncle on this beautiful creation. The lobby featured large round rings of jeweled lights giving a prismatic effect. As a kid of about 9 I was REALLY impressed and as an adult years later, so saddened to learn of the theater’s destruction.

bbfarmer
bbfarmer on February 5, 2013 at 10:14 am

Saw many films there. The ones that come to mind are “Close Encounters”, “Marathon Man”, and “Silent Movie”.

MontyM
MontyM on March 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Silent Movie and Close Encounters of The Third Kind played at the Cooper Theater four blocks north.

jmg24601
jmg24601 on July 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I remember seeing Raiders there opening day and later on my second ever date. I thought Close Encounters was at the Cooper and Gandhi would have been the last movie with an intermission. (maybe the movie had one and they did not use it) Is there any truth to the rumor that when The Jerk was tested there, Steve Martin was there?

Chazzmania
Chazzmania on July 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

I worked up the street at the Cooper in the early 1980’s and remember Rich Vincent as the manager of the Century 21. I would love to reconnect with Rich and his friend Jim Townley, the manager of the Cooper/Cameo who was also my boss.

I worked at the Cooper during Blade Runner, World According to Garp, Pink Floyd the Wall and other memorable films of the early 80’s.

Lula
Lula on November 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Hey! I worked as a (concession) cashier and then an usher under the management of Richard Vincent back in the late 70’s. The Boys From Brazil was playing when I started and I was there for the duration of Superman. If I remember correctly – Close Encounters was playing at The Cooper and Invasion of the Bodysnatchers was playing at The Continental around then. It was either Close Encounters or Star Wars. The Cooper got them both at any rate. Actually I think it was Star Wars because the ticket price was $3.50 for Star Wars and when we premiered Superman it was a huge deal that ticket prices had gone up to $4.00 (it was practically a scandal to charge that much). Mile High Comics had a display set up in our lobby with something like the first 4-5 issues of Superman comic books. We had to have an armored guard in the theater because the comics were so valuable (and we had so much money in the joint). That’s back when you actually had lines wrapped around the building waiting to get in. I remember we got to have a private screening of Battlestar Galactica. They were test screening it so it was employees only. Pretty cool. Also the seats on the left side of the theater had built in ashtrays in the armrest. Something you can’t imagine now. Century 21 was such a cool theater. People now have no concept of what it was like to see a movie in a theater like that or The Cooper or The Continental. The last time I was in Denver I hardly recognized Colorado Blvd. So sad that so many cool theaters are gone.

mindifp
mindifp on January 21, 2014 at 7:13 pm

I also worked at this theater summers from 1985-1990, eventually becoming an assistant manager. What an exceptional theater! I worked for Russ Page for quite a few of those years, does anyone remember him? I heard of Mr. Vincent frequently from District Office personnel who would frequently stop in because we were to close to their offices. This was one of the best jobs I ever had because of the great movies (“Top Gun” was showing when I started), great staff, and really great skills I developed while working my way from concessions into management. I remember when it closed and I sadly visited the Soundtrack a few times just so I could feel the aura of a place that meant so much to me.

Interestingly, I worked at Heritage High School a few years ago and it must have been built by the same folks that designed Century 21; it had the same “stripes” on the outside of the building.

Mindi

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