AMC Empire 25

234 W. 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 301 - 325 of 470 comments

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 2, 2006 at 2:38 pm

I have been to this location three times in the past week and the presentation and audiences were all good experiences. The concession stand and other staff members were excellent although I saw no sign of a manager.

That blinking red light must must be night vision CCTV and it is truly distracting. The bathrooms just need a good thorough cleaning. Daily staff appear to be doing a good job.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 30, 2006 at 10:29 pm

I remember all the hooplah when they had that giant inflated Lou Costello “tug” the Empire down the block to its present location. The process made it to segments on all the local news channels at the time as well as all the daily papers. I remember thinking back on my days seeing films on 42nd Street when I read the about the plans to have the shell of the theater used as an entrance to a large multiplex and how escalators would transport ticketholders through the old proscenium, thinking what a great idea that was. The original Empire was a pretty cozy place and had virtually no lobby space. Converting the old auditorium to one of the multiplex’s screens would have been impossible unless the complex’s lobby was built adjacent to the theater and one entered along the side wall of the auditorium. As far as returning it to legitimate use, it might have made a nice companion to the jewel box Victory at the other end of the Duece and surely would have been re-fitted to under 500 seats in order to expand the lobby and skirt the union demands of legit B'way houses. I wonder if it would have found a niche as the New Victory did.

LuisV on June 30, 2006 at 9:58 pm

I have to say that I’m kind of shocked at the posting of Movieguy718. I have been going to the Empire 25 since it opened and have NEVER had an unpleasant movie going experience there. I have a large circle of friends who also go there and I never hear anyone say anything negative. I’m not disputing his experience, but it totally hasn’t been mine and I still very much look forward to going there. I live in Chelsea and now that they have finally upgraded the dumpy Chelsea Cinemas I will be going there more frequently but only because it’s closer. p.s. I feel the same way about Regal’s Union Square. I absolutely hate that theater and have never had a good experience there. But that’s me! :–)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 8, 2006 at 6:51 am

That gadget with the blinking red light sounds like a night vision goggle. When a bootleg DVD is traced to a particular theatre, the goggles and bag searches can help track cam corder pirates on new movies.

I don’t think we can hold AMC Empire responsible for Times Square audiences but their staff behaviour and absence of duty managers is indeed often unforgivable.

Movieguy718 on June 8, 2006 at 6:30 am

Hey Steve Marcus… I WISH it was an exaggeration – and if you recall, there were already a couple shootings here.
A friend of mine dragged me here again for DaVinci Code (she had a bunch of free passes from HER last disasterous trip here) – at the auditorium entrance we were frisked, scanned and my gym bag was thoroughly searched for video eqipment by a couple of goons. When we got into the auditorium, the stench of pot ALMOST overwhelmed the stench of vomit (or sewage or whatever it is.) It was a 10:40 PM showing – we walked into the auditorium at 10:40 maybe 10:41 and the movie was well underway. They had started EARLY. I asked one of the goons when and why the movie had started early: “Maybe ten minutes ago – it’s a long movie and we want to go home” was the reply. Would he do something about the people smoking? He would try to find security. Exactly. Consequently, people were still coming in at 11:00. Since we are usually innundated with 20 minutes of commercial and trailers, everyone knows that the movie never starts on time, much less EARLY!!!
The smoking and almost constant use of cellphones was of no concern to the goon who was standing right at the edge of the screen using some apparatus with a blinking red light to scope the audience. To be completely fair, the blinking light at the screen didn’t seem to concern anyone in the audience except me.
To end our most recent Empire experience: neither of the two toilet stalls in the mens room had a lock, one of them was stopped up. No paper towels, no water in one of the two sinks. No paper towels in the ladies room either. A bum was sleeping on the little bench by the restrooms. ALL the escalators were off on the way out.
The presentation (in theatre 6) was fine though.
I don’t have a beef with AMC. The Empire is the only AMC I have ever been to. However, it sure doesn’t make me wanna run out to find others just like it.
I never said the E-Walk was a paradise; merely that it is a more pleasant and reliable experience (in a good way) than the Empire. And quite honestly, since AMC has taken over the E-walk, there have been some improvents there (theatre 13 has had “ghosts” for years, it’s finally been fixed.)
I don’t think that my problems at the AMC have anything to do with the AMC corporation. I think it’s the people working at the thaetre level that are clueless and careless. They KNOW what kind of crowd they attract, and should staff their theatre accordingly. It is something the E-Walk has done since day one. Whenever they show slasher/horror/“urban” movies there, the place is overrun with security.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2006 at 6:41 pm

Bway… LuisV is correct. After most of those theaters closed and sat vacant for a few years, the city allowed some artists to display these short phrases on the marquees of all the Duece grind houses. Only the Harris was spared, as it was still in full operation during the project. I can’t recall if the Harem was still in operation at the time. The Roxy Twin adjacent to the New Amsterdam was still advertising porn, while the other Roxy Twin by the Empire was in mid conversion to the shortlived Movieplex 42. The Anco had been converted to retail for a number of years by this time. All the others, however, had these sayings on the marquees. A different saying on each face of each marquee to boot. Check out the other CT pages for the Victory, New Amsterdam, Selwyn, Lyric, Liberty, Harris and Times Square theaters for other shots I took at the same time.

LuisV on June 5, 2006 at 1:21 pm

I believe that was part of the poetry project that hung on almost all of the marquees while the city was trying to figure out how to reivive the area.

Bway on June 5, 2006 at 1:15 pm

Ed, was that a movie playing at the Empire, “WHat will save us now that sex won’t”, or was that something to say that now that porn is out of the theater, what will keep it alive?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 26, 2006 at 5:11 pm

Sorry for the misidentification, Robert R. Thank YOU for that ad! By the way… what is the Stanley on 7th near 42nd? I presume the Manhattan Theater listed above it at 51st and B'way is the old Warner that was next door to the original Roseland Ballroom?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 26, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Great ad, Warren! You think anyone could get away with such a racist Al Quaeda caricature today as the Japanese one seen in the center of that block of ads?

RobertR on May 26, 2006 at 1:27 am

A war time ad when it was known as the Laffmovie
View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2006 at 12:38 am

I’ve added a few shots I took in 1993 of the Empire to my photbucket album. At the time, all of the Duece grind houses (except the Harris) were closed and stripped of their signage. Their bare marquees were being used for some sort of public poetry project. The Empire still had the set dressings on its exterior left there by the makers of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film “The Last Action Hero”. The Empire was featured in that flick as “Arcade’s Pandora Theater” and a pair of ornamental cartouches on the lower facade (at either side of the marquee) as well some intricately carved shields on the theaters doors were added and left in place by the set decorators:

Empire facade
Faux “Pandora” cartouche
42nd Street Focus Group sign
“Pandora” door shield

That sign in the 3rd picture is interesting, albeit a bit hard to read in the print due to the glare in the display case glass. Here’s what it reads, as best as I can determine (guesses on illegible words in parentheses):

“We are in the middle of an experiment to find out how to control an element that we don’t like. Maybe this element that we are all so frightened about will ultimately, when social realities change, participate in finding new places to go. We can’t plan this whole thing (wondering) about whether or not these people are going to continue to stand (on the corner) or not. It’s self defeating in my opinion. We have to take 42nd Street and assume with the proper control those people will go away. 42nd Street Focus Group.”

AlexNYC on May 22, 2006 at 10:29 pm

I was at AMC Empire last week and there was no sound. I went out to alert any staff member to tel the projectionist or manager, and of course there was nobody around, even the concession person was missing, I had to go down to the lower level to find a human being to complain to. The remarks above by Movieguy718 may be an exaggeration, but alot of unpleasant things do happen when there aren’t any employees visible. AMC Empire was much better staffed when it first opened, I’m afraid there’s alot of apathy and staffing issues today. I hope management gets their act together.

thx1164 on May 21, 2006 at 11:15 pm

During my visit here today I encountered: drug use AND selling in the mens room, filthy toilet stalls, endless concession lines with ONE person working and several other employees just standing around, sticky floors in the auditorium, sticky substance on the armrest, the stench of booze in the auditorium, someone smoking in the auditorium, a screaming match over the use of a cellphone AND a fist fight over the use of some sort of electronic device that was playing music (loudly) all DURING THE MOVIE. And there were MAYBE 30 people in the theater. It was like watching a movie at the old Harris on 42nd St on a Friday night (except this was Wednesday and AMC is supposed to be a decent place.) Ironically enough, the presentation was OK (a rarity here.) And no, it is NOT the neighborhood – this does not happen at the Ewalk across the street – no matter what kind of obnoxious movie they are showing. I seem to recall that there were a couple shootings here as well. Now that AMC owns everything, is THIS what we have to look forward to? In addition to their generally lousy presentations!?!
posted by Movieguy718 on Feb 23, 2006 at 12:05am”

Wow, all that happened to you in one visit???? Are you sure you didn’t experience a drive by shooting through the lobby too??? Sounds like to me you just have a beef with AMC. I know alot of problems are prevelent at E-Walk and it’s not the paradise you paint it to be. Sorry, I just think you have a score to settle with Empire and this is your way of paybacks.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 9, 2006 at 12:28 am

The Liberty auditorium is sitting vacant waiting for a new tenant to come with a plan for adaptive re-use. Visit the Liberty page here for more info and some recent photos I took of the surviving 42nd and 41st Street facades of the theater.

Meanwhile, I’ve reorganized my photobucket albums and the links I previously posted above no longer work. Here is the link to my new Empire Theater album on photobucket where those photos may be found.

moviebuff82 on May 2, 2006 at 7:16 pm

Is the firm responsible for building the new theatre in Rockaway TOwnsquare Mall (the building firm)?

Bway on May 2, 2006 at 12:22 pm

What exactly is the Liberty Theater part of the complex used for today?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 2, 2006 at 11:53 am

Great post, Joe. Naturally, it also mentions how the Liberty Theater was retained within the complex. Unfortunately, the beautiful Harris Theater was pounded to dust to clear space for Madame Tussaud’s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 2, 2006 at 10:36 am

The architectural firm which designed the AMC Empire 25 and the adaptation of the Eltinge Theatre as its entrance and lobby was Gould Evans Associates, the Lawrence, Kansas based firm which has designed the majority of AMC’s recent megaplex theatres.

Here is an interesting page about Forest City Ratner’s 42nd Street development, at the Cooper Union School of Architecture’s web site. It gives a good description of the way this complex development is put together.

42ndStreetMemories on April 21, 2006 at 5:01 pm


I’m sure they weren’t there since I remember calling the theaters. And as I mentioned on one of the sites, that wasn’t easy, since they had one line and a person answering the phone. Imagine that!

Sometimes, Dad would be working up that way and he’d come home with a written list of the films.

But you’re right, part of the thrill was coming up the subway on 8th Avenue and feverishly scanning the marquees. Can’t remember too many times, where one of the ten didn’t have something to see. Great times. jerry

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 21, 2006 at 4:22 pm

Jerry… I don’t know how the listings ran in the ‘50’s and '60’s, but I seem to recall that the NY Post used to list most of the Duece grindhouses in their Movie Time Clock during the late '70’s and '80’s. They used to clump them all together with the prefix “42St” near the beginning of the column. So you’d see “42St Liberty” and “42St Lyric” etc… I don’t think they always listed both (or all three, as the case may be) features, which is why going down to the strip in person was always the best way to select which particular bill of fare to attend.

42ndStreetMemories on April 21, 2006 at 3:15 pm

Thanks, Bill. I just loaded 7 new ones about 5 minutes ago. I’ll be posting them on the appropriate theater site but if you head back to my photobucket site they should all be there. Also, if you are interested in double features, as I am, I have an excel spreadsheet that I can email you. Many of the “misspent childhood” double features that I caught in my NYC days in the early 50s-late 60s. These are the ones that I have been able to document over the past few years. I know….get a life. But it’s been a fun hobby. Genealogy for movie nuts. email me at .com

Still looking for a way to research the Empire and Victory theaters (pre-porn)and the Terrace down on 23rd St during that time period (early 50s-late 60s). They’re not listed in the NY Times or Cue magazine. jerry the k

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on April 21, 2006 at 2:54 pm

To Jerry Kovar: Thanks so much for posting the 42nd St. pictures on your Photobucket site. They’re all great, but I especially enjoyed the William Castles and the Liz-Eddie-Debbie one. All those amazing double features – it reminded me of when I first got “Midnight Cowboy” on video and spent so much time freeze-framing and slow-motioning, trying to see what all the double features were.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 17, 2006 at 1:39 pm

Well… we all tend to romanticize our youth, I suppose. But then, I don’t remember the area ever being as desolate as you describe the Tenderloin district to be. It seems there was always plenty of foot traffic along the Duece and around the corner on Times Square proper, there were always crowds. I don’t particularly miss the come-ons from the pimps and drug dealers and phony ID guys or the three card monty games… but I do miss the honky tonk atmosphere and the grindhouses. I miss the colorful displays in the outer vestibules and the cheap double feature thrills they promised (and often delivered). I guess I’ll have to be content with my memories. And I too have enjoyed legitimate productions at the gleamingly renovated Selwyn and New Amsterdam theaters in recent years, not to mention that I’ve been a subscriber to the children’s theater program at the New Victory for several years running now. Yes, it’s very nice to be able to take the kids to see shows on the Duece. But when I stare around before the curtain goes I up, I can’t help but drift back to the days of my youth and recalling with a smile some of the demented sights and sounds I watched unfold on the big soda-stained screens in those creaky old grinders.

LuisV on April 16, 2006 at 4:57 pm

Hey Ed, I used to miss pieces of the “old 42nd St.” as well. Then, about 2 years ago I was in San Francisco on business and one night I went out for a walk. I wound up in the Tenderloin District. There were few people on the street. Those that were there were ominous looking. There were prostitutes, drug dealers and homeless people lurking about. I’ve lived in New York all my life and don’t scare easily, but I was extremely uncomfortable. When I passed a couple of porno theaters it reminded me of the “Old Times Square”. I quickly realized that I don’t miss it at all. I now live less than a mile from Times Square and I feel safe at all hours of the day and night walking in that area. There are theaters I love going to rather than theaters I avoided at all costs. There are restarants, retail and attractions. Yes, there are lots of tourists and there’s a lot of cheeziness, but so what! This is a vast improvement over what was. I never want to go back to that time. Ever! If you still miss it, go to San Francisco!