AMC Empire 25

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

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Showing 426 - 450 of 585 comments

RobertR on May 25, 2006 at 5:27 pm

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

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 23, 2006 at 4:38 pm

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 2:29 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 3:15 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 8, 2006 at 4:28 pm

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 11:16 am

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

Bway on May 2, 2006 at 4:22 am

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

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 2, 2006 at 3:53 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 2:36 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 9:01 am


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 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.