AMC Empire 25

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

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Showing 426 - 450 of 575 comments

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 21, 2006 at 8:22 am

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 7:15 am

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 6:54 am

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 5:39 am

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 8:57 am

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!

BobFurmanek on April 5, 2006 at 4:01 am

I cut school in the mid-70’s and was walking up 42nd Street. Imagine my shock when one of the theaters had a double-bill of HORROR OF DRACULA and CURSE OF FRANKENTSTEIN, 2 films from the late 1950’s!

If the street wasn’t riddled with bums, hookers and drug dealers, I would have thought I stepped into a time machine.

42ndStreetMemories on April 5, 2006 at 2:46 am

When we crank up that Time Machine, drop me off on the “old 42nd Street” in the late 50s to late 60s. It was more “mainstream” than your time in the 70s-80s but with some of the most creative programming in town. Mostly, geared for the blue collar audience. (With the exception of the Apollo).

The Empire was already known for eclectic double/triple bills even before The Undertaker & His Pals/Corpse Grinders days.

Check out my July 2005 posting for their double bill celebrating the Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher-Liz mess.

I can recall individual films that I saw back then but piecing the double features together is tough. I’ve checked all of the NY Times from the 50s-60s and Cue Magazines from the 60s and cannot find any listings for the Empire. Too bad but the quest continues. Any leads are appreciated.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 4, 2006 at 5:41 pm

I, for one, enjoyed the hell out of the “old 42nd Street” and, while it could indeed be a scary place to visit (particularly the theaters on the south side of the street), I’d have some of those old double and triple features again! I particularly miss the showmanship and the flair with which many of these theaters tried to lure us in. I always found any trip there to be a thrilling event and the proactively involved patrons of those grinders usually guaranteed your money’s worth regardless of the quality that actually showed up on screen! And some of those features on the bottom of the bill (in ragged prints that seemed to have been kicked around up and down the block for years) were pretty spectacular in their audacious perversity. This was the real avant garde of independent film making in the pre-Mirimax days of the ‘70’s and '80’s.

AlexNYC on April 1, 2006 at 3:00 pm

I appreciate what AMC did to preserve the facade and the front of the old Empire theater. I wish more theaters facing demolition would be fortunate enough to survive with such a similar compromise.

Bway on February 27, 2006 at 11:52 am

Here’s some great photos of the Empire in the “old 42nd St” from the 70’s and 80’s. I really don’t think I’d want to go back to that:

Bway on February 27, 2006 at 4:52 am

Wow, very nice Ed! Thanks for sharing.
I always liked this theater. I have been there a few times, and think the old theater interior is fascinating. I had never experienced anything close to the description given above.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 26, 2006 at 11:18 am

I was on 42nd Street the other night taking in a show at the New Victory down the block with my kids and I took a couple of shots of the Empire. Nothing Earth-shattering, but I thought it was cool how you can see the original auditorium dome through the arched array of windows on the facade of the building.

Facade at night
Through the windows

PCino on February 25, 2006 at 5:13 pm

I had the opportunity to visit this great megaplex during my
spring break of 2005. It was truly awe inspiring. If I remembered
correctly, I saw Assault on Precinct 13.
PS. Don’t remember any drug dealings tho.

LuisV on February 25, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Hey Movieguy718, Sorry about your experience at this theater. I have seen scores of films here since it opened and I have Never had an unpleasant experience. I think it is a wonderful theater. I know the frusration you feel though because I have had nothing but awful experiences at the Regal Union Square. I can’t stand that theater. I find it filthy, overcrowded, bad concessions and inept concessionaires and employees who don’t seem to care. Though I personally haven’t seen them, people have posted on this site that rats are rampant! Even so, when I ranted on that theater’s posting many people defended it and said they love it. p.s. I love the Loewe’s E-Walk as well!

Movieguy718 on February 23, 2006 at 9:02 am

Hey Hardbop,

The movie was Final Destination 3. And like I said, there were maybe 30 people in the auditorium (#6).
I also experienced a fist fight here during (appropriately enough) Gangs of New York and had a group of people smoking pot during (of ALL things) Pride and Prejudice.
I found two managers and told them about my experience – they didn’t seem very surprised or concerned. They offered me a refund and said that someone would be in to check the auditorium (which of course didn’t happen.)
I’ve seen plenty of horror/slasher movies at the Ewalk across the street and NEVER experienced anything like this over there. Maybe because the Ewalk has patrolling security guards and ushers checking the theaters…
In any case, I never liked this place because of their generally crappy presentations – but I certainly am not going to put up with feeling like I might gat slashed in the mens room or assaulted during the movie. And I don’t feel that way even up at the Magic Johnson Harlem USA.

hardbop on February 23, 2006 at 4:31 am

What was the movie? I have never experienced this, but I hope you e-mailed the AMC people. I had a problem there and e-mailed the national HQ and they were all apologetic and I received some passes. The best thing to do is go right to national HQ because that let’s the manager of the theatre know his superiors are aware of the complaint. They’ll forward the complaint to the AMC’s manager and he’ll respond.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 22, 2006 at 9:28 pm

I’ve been here several times recently and have not expereinced anything like that at all.

Movieguy718 on February 22, 2006 at 9:07 pm

PS – I was wondering where all the people from the concession line went. Perhaps they have a crack den in there someplace??

Movieguy718 on February 22, 2006 at 9:05 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!?!

John Fink
John Fink on February 3, 2006 at 6:06 am

AMC has 4 months to sell off E-Walk

hardbop on February 3, 2006 at 6:05 am

I am surprised that they allowed this merger to go through without forcing the combined entity to shed some theatres. I don’t quite understand why Cinemaplex Odeon & Loew’s had to shed cinemas when they merged, but AMC and Loew’s didn’t have to shed cinemas, particularly in Times Square where AMC is now the only game in town. There are what 25 screens at AMC and I think 14 at Loew’s across the street. 39 screens controlled by one company? At the least AMC should have been forced to sell one of those two theatres.

And speaking of AMC, there clearly isn’t enough product to go around to fill 39 screens during the dog days of February. They are desperate to fill those screens. “The Tenant” opens exclusively at AMC this week. They also opened the equally poorly reviewed “Tamara,” which is also playing in Manhattan at the often second run City Cinemas E. Village ‘plex and the New Coliseum in Upper Manhattan. Finally, to complete this sorry-assed trifecta, also opening at AMC today is an, ahem, art film, “A Good Woman,” which is also playing at the less than A-list Clearview Cinemas’ E. 62nd Street ‘plex and the higher profile Regal 14th Street 'plex. “AGW,” like “Tamara” and “The Tenant” were all poorly reviewed.

Another weird booking at the AMC was “Bloodrayne,” a horror flick that opened at AMC on January 13. It also opened in the boroughs as well, but AMC was the only theatre showing “Bloodyrayne” for the first week anyway. What was odd about “Bloodrayne,” in addition to its exclusive Manhattan booking at AMC, was the fact that it wasn’t reviewed in the “New York Times” even though advertising appeared in the Times.

cheebalicious on January 29, 2006 at 11:17 pm

Saw “Akira” when the remaster premiered here March 2001. Don’t recall any sound issues, but it’s been years and from the sound of it we were in one of the better auditoriums. Haven’t been back since because it’s not exactly local.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 19, 2006 at 11:31 am

REndres;Many thanks for your clarification and insight into this. It’s always good to have someone with ‘first hand knowledge’.

RobertEndres on January 19, 2006 at 10:32 am

The vents you see in the rectangular space are new. The projection exhaust fan vented through one of the curved windows where a pane of glass had been removed. The booth was asbestos and just plunked down in the space behind the top row. The lamp rectifiers were either mounted outside the booth on a bracket or on the top of the booth. I can’t remember for sure where they were, but I remember walking outside the booth to see what was behind it and seeing the units. That always amused me, since the New York code required that the D.C. motor/generator sets or rectifiers be mounted outside of the booth itself usually enclosed in another room next to the booth. I always thought the rectifiers at the Empire were more of a fire hazard where they were, since they couldn’t be seen from the booth itself, and were sitting there covered in dust. There was a space between the back wall of the booth and the curved window, with the exhaust duct running out of the booth to the window. If you see pictures of the front of the theatre before the move, you’ll see the exhaust grill in the window.