A look inside the AMC Empire 25, the busiest theater in America
NEW YORK, NY — A recent article in the Hollywood Reporter provides a close-up look at how the AMC Empire 25 handles the daily crowds at its popular location just off of Times Square. The seven-level “multiplex on steroids” entertains, on average, 42,000 patrons a week and last year took in nearly $25 million in revenue. At its mammoth concession stand, 3,500 pounds of popcorn kernels are popped and 250 gallons of Coke syrup are mixed with carbonated water every week. The history of the theater, which dates back to 1912 when it was built as the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre is also summarized.
Most multiplexes in the U.S. don’t open until noon and, if they did open earlier, would be hard-pressed to get any traffic. But early openings are all in a day’s work for the Empire, which accommodates more than 2 million moviegoers annually. It’s been the top-grossing theater in North America for years — a surprising fact, even within the film business, given that it doesn’t have bells and whistles like reserved seating or high-end dining. Not to mention that 42nd Street is best associated with the surrounding Broadway legit theaters (and, of course, the often seedy history of Times Square).
The story of how the Empire — which has gone from Broadway theater to burlesque house to shuttered operation — came to be the U.S.‘ busiest theater is emblematic of the resurgence of Times Square and New York City’s tenacious ability to reinvent itself. Beyond its singular success, the Empire offers a profile of how the modern multiplex — albeit one on steroids — operates. Individual movies are assigned screens based on their drawing power, and the number of screens can change quickly from one day to the next. To maintain cost-effectiveness, staffing is constantly adjusted based on projections about how upcoming movies are expected to perform. And even orchestrating the concession lines is a near-science.
The whole story can be read here.