AMC Empire 25

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

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42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on December 30, 2004 at 8:48 am

Is there any way to retrieve the bookings information on the 42nd Street Theaters, back in the 50s-60s, especially the Empire, Anco, Times Square, Victory, Liberty? I went through the NY Times microfiche at the library and found some mention of the more mainstream New Amsterdam, Lyric, Harris, Selwyn but nothing on the others. Thanks for any info. Jerry 42nd Street Memories

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on October 31, 2004 at 3:06 am

I saw the Empire when it was being moved down the street on the rails. It was an incredible feat. I remember reading ahead of time that they were planning to do this as part of the redevelopment of 42nd Street, and couldn’t believe they were attempting it. I remember thinking at the time why didn’t they just leave the remaining portion of the Empire where it was and build around it in that location? Why was it necessary to move it 200 ft. west? It just seemed to me that they could have built the multiplex at the original location, and placed the Madame T’s Wax Museum on the west side of the multiplex instead of the east side.

I’m glad they did though, because—at the very least—it saved a portion of the old theater. I think the good will to preserve theaters on 42nd Street had been used up by the time the Empire was moved. The New Amsterdam up the street was undergoing an extensive restoration by Disney, and the Ford Center on the north side of the street had taken two old theaters and did a re-adaptive use, but saved the front facade. Next door to it, the New Victory Theater had been restored.

Quite frankly, I’m very surprised that The New Amsterdam; the New Victory; the old part of the Ford Center (can’t think of the name of the original theater(s)); and the Empire didn’t all get torn down in one fell swoop. I had lived in the East Village just prior to redevelopment, and two old theaters in my neighborhood had been demolished. One was the old Fillmore East (which I think had been a movie theater or Jewish playhouse earlier). The other one was along 13th Street near Second or Third Avenue if I recall. At the same time, the Palladium on E. 14th St. was demolished. Now, that was a big shock to me, because I thought the Palladium would be saved. I know it had been a nightclub and concert venue for years, but had originally been a movie theater?

I was torn about the 42nd St. redevelopment too. Part of me liked the seediness of the street. One got a trill just walking down it late at night. However, it is in one of the primary tourist areas of the city, and having it in that condition reflected badly on the city. I’m just so glad the New Amsterdam got restored. I would have hated to lose that marquee.

Divinity
Divinity on October 20, 2004 at 9:22 pm

It is just a sad case of the casual American experience. Movie theaters have become common places where oppulent ornamentation is not important anymore and people certainly do not dress for the occasion anymore. I have often seen people visit theaters in t-shirts. Even in movie palaces of all places. Some people say that modernism is sleek and sophisticated. The reality is that it is cheap and easy to accomplish. What is the solution? Do not go to unadorned multiplexes and always wear something in good taste out of respect for a movie palace.

I have seen the AMC and I think that more of the interior could have been preserved. They certainly didn’t replace the fabric that lined the walls.

umbaba
umbaba on July 26, 2004 at 8:33 am

and considering the presentation of films today, the multiplexes are where it’s at. No more 70MM, premieres where the public can go to, roadshow engagements….just crap…can you imagine a 70MM presentation of Catwoman????

sdoerr
sdoerr on July 26, 2004 at 7:54 am

yes, 1 screen theaters are not profitable as much as multiplexs. Plus now people are into their surround sound, stadium seats and could care less.

Bway
Bway on July 25, 2004 at 7:57 pm

There is no way a company can make money on a one screen theater like that anymore with all the multiplexes around unfortunately.
It’s not just the fascade that is left, the entire main auditorium still exists as the “lobby” of the AMC.

Bigdom78987
Bigdom78987 on July 25, 2004 at 6:53 pm

All that’s left is the front facade. a shame

Bigdom78987
Bigdom78987 on July 25, 2004 at 6:52 pm

Megaplexes are stupid!

Bigdom78987
Bigdom78987 on July 25, 2004 at 6:50 pm

Sure its better than being torn down but they should build stuff like they used to. Why can’t they just build nice stuff any more. Just compare your average building from the 20s to your average building now. The Empire should have been redone as a nice one auditorium theatre with nice decor and the old stuff. Why can’t they do that anymore?

42ndStreetMemories
42ndStreetMemories on July 17, 2004 at 5:59 pm

The old Empire of the 50s & 60s had some of the most creative programming on The Deuce. i saw my first Chaplin there, Tillie’s Punctured Romance on a double bill with a Francis the Talking Mule movie. Of course, like most of 42nd, the double bills were usually standard action fare. Double bills of films that had been on the bottom of the bill at first run theaters. Tarawa Beachhead, Timbuktu, The Marauders come to mind. Great escape for a 10 year old kid when the Times Square theater across the street had westerns that I’d already seen. The Deuce’s sub-run theaters didn’t advertise (kept the admissions low), so it was exciting to come up the subway steps and start to peruse the marquees. A kid in a candy shop. Jerry the K

Camden
Camden on July 17, 2004 at 5:33 pm

It’s quite a hybrid, all right, and it is fantasitc that they used the old theatre for the lobby instead of tearing it down. It is beautiful, and kind of dreamlike and surreal to have those escalators zigzagging through it, now that you’ve all mentioned it. You can’t stand in line there without gawking at the ceiling and scratching your head over its wonderful flamboyance. In a more sensible world, of course Vincent’s suggestions about preserving the old theatres intact would be the obvious choice, but as we know, there’s not much that’s sensible in this irrational world beyond flailing around trying to stay afloat. At least it’s not as bad as China, where almost every single thing that is old is being destroyed and replaced with truly obnoxious buildings. Oh, how their future generations will loathe them for it.

Camden

Bway
Bway on July 17, 2004 at 3:09 pm

I meant “All the escalators are in the originalauditorium”.They zig-zap through the old auditorium.

Bway
Bway on July 17, 2004 at 3:08 pm

Look up. All the escalators are in the original lobby. Some escalators even go through the procenium arch of the old theater, almost near the ceiling. The former balonies are all the various levels of the “lobby”.

umbaba
umbaba on July 17, 2004 at 9:22 am

I never realized that the original auditorium was used as the lobby. It just seems like a standard lobby. So, when you walk in, to the ticket booth, are you waling towards the original screen area??

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on July 16, 2004 at 6:09 pm

Well yes. But think if the city powers that be instead had restored the entire block retaining all the original facades getting sponserships for each individual theater and used some imagination.
Both the Met and the City opera could have used theaters for smaller Mozart and the like. Why does anything play in the Gershwin(Frank Rich called it George and Ira’s boobie prize)or the Minskoff? They’re architectural monstrosities.
This would have maintained an entire historic neighborhood and would have been the jewel in the crown for the city.
The city tore down Penn Station again. Which it never seems tired of doing.

telliott
telliott on July 16, 2004 at 4:47 pm

Just consider yourselves lucky in New York that AMC had the imagination to do this. Here in Toronto there are so many old theatres they could have done this to but instead just demolished them. Especially our old beloved University theatre, the facade is still there but now it’s a Pottery Barn. Oh well, that’s progress.

Bway
Bway on July 16, 2004 at 4:37 pm

The Empire will never be a theater again, but the auditorium is alive and well as the loppy of the plex. An escalator even goes through the old procenium arch.

br91975
br91975 on July 16, 2004 at 11:01 am

The original auditorium wasn’t demolished; it serves as the lobby for the megaplex that surrounds it.

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on July 16, 2004 at 10:19 am

I was there when the plex first opened and the auditorium was intact being used as the lobby. Am I mistaken or have the destroyed that as well?

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 16, 2004 at 10:14 am

The Empire’s auditorium was demolished. There is nothing left to “restore.”

VincentParisi
VincentParisi on July 16, 2004 at 9:35 am

Now they should demolish the plex and restore the Empire. It is a small gem. Gilbert and Sullivan and Offenbach would be perfect there and there is no other theater that size in the city for that kind of operetta. Kind of like the Opera Comique still standing in Paris.
I guess though we have to wait a while before the plexes become white elephants(to me they already are)and start collapsing from their own economic weight. Let’s hope it’s sooner than we think.

Camden
Camden on July 15, 2004 at 10:35 pm

Wait a minute. For some reason I thought it faced the NEXT STREET OVER, I guess on 43rd Street, and there was nothing behind it for the time being on 42nd Street, so they could build the rails and roll it back and across the street. At least that what it looked like was happening to me to judge from the photographs. I’m under the impression that it was indeed one street over. I could’ve watched it, but I forgot about it that day, so I’m not really 100% sure, though. Oops. After spending ten minutes surfing the net, I finally called the theatre and, incredibly, got someone on the line that seemed to know. You’re right, it was on the same side of the same block and they just moved it down 180 feet. I could’ve sworn from looking at the pictures that it was across the street with nothing behind it to get in its way, but I was wrong. I hate being wrong, but it happens so seldom, of course…

Camden

Bway
Bway on July 15, 2004 at 10:09 am

If they moved it one street over, it would have been a real acomplishment!
200 feet is quite impresive in itself though.

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on July 15, 2004 at 9:50 am

They moved it 200 feet west in the same block of 42nd Street. It was never “one street over.”

Camden
Camden on July 14, 2004 at 10:33 pm

Yes, they moved the building over on rails from one street over. Fantastic. They have a series of pictures of this somewhere inside the place, and they should run a short film of it before every show, or incorporate it into the introductory film to the feature (what a great idea). I agree that moving it over and converting it this way was a splendid idea, and it’s incredible that they actually did it. The lobby is extremely impressive. I was there when it opened and saw “Citizen Kane,” and I remember they were running “Twentieth Century” with Carole Lombard in one theatre, but no one would pay the ten bucks for films from the 30s, or at least not enough people to make it feasible, apparently. That’s unfortunate but I guess Times Square real estate is expensive. Much as I loved the old 80s Times Square freak show, it only seems natural that people can step out of the bus station and see actual movies. This place is a real asset, and it has so many screens that it’s usually the last theatre in which you can catch a film before it disappears. It’s weird that as you come out of the theatre you pass through a food court that could be anywhere in the country and doesn’t feel like New York at all. I do recommend the view from the top balcony overlooking Times Square, though. This is actually a great theatre, awesome by dint of its 25 screens.

Camden