AMC Empire 25

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

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Showing 451 - 475 of 579 comments

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.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 19, 2006 at 9:28 am

A current photo (courtesy of woody) of the ceiling and two balconies. Note the rectangular space in the ceiling above the window is where the vents from the projection box were located and the two semi-circular ‘balconies’ each side of the window indicate the original floor level at the rear of the second balcony.
View link

An identical view, taken in 1989 before the theatre was ‘moved’ and showing the projection box still in position is in the book ‘Lost Broadway Theatres’ by Nicholas van Hoogstraten (page149)

Movieguy718 on January 18, 2006 at 11:20 pm

Hey ED… at the AMC, I have seen movies in theatres 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23 and 25. Wow – that makes me look like a geek ;–) The sound is better in the tiny theatres – less echo, I imagine.
I have seen movies in all the theatres at the Loews E-Walk across the street. It’s a far superior experience at the E-Walk. Their small screens are not that small and their big screens are really big. Plus, in their two big houses, the rows of seats are gently curved (unlike AMC) which lets even the aisle seats have a view of the screen as opposed to a view of the black masking and the wall (like the AMC). Additionally, even when the volume is too low or there is some sort of sound problem, you can always make out the dialog, it never sounds like mush – again, unlike AMC where I have seen entire movies that might as well have been in Hungarian or some ancient long forgotten language.
The E-Walk, the Ziegfeld, the Regal Union Square and the Regal Battery Park are the best theatres in the city based on consistently good presentation.

William on January 18, 2006 at 8:14 am

The main problem I have with the AMC Empire 25 is the sound. Every time I’ve seen a movie there, at every splice during the feature. It losses the digital soundtrack (SDDS) and reverts to the Dolby SR analog track for a few seconds and then back to the digital SDDS track. In doing that it goes from a full sound field to a sound field that you can tell your missing channels.

hardbop on January 18, 2006 at 7:57 am

I’ve seen many films here and I think AMC has actually improved. I remember once having to run out of the theatre over to the concierge to tell them to turn the lights down. Another time there was a mistake in the film listings in the paper. I think one film was sharing an auditorium with another (why they would have to do that in a 25-‘plex I’ll never know) and they showed the wrong film. I remember complaining to the concierge and she was so snotty I actually wrote a letter to AMC’s corporate parent. They forwarded the letter to the theatre manager who told me the woman who was snotty was canned (evidently she wasn’t snotty just to me) and he included several comp tickets. All in all I was satisfied.

AMC is also the only Manhattan chain that rewards frequent movie goers with free screenings and food. The Regal ‘plex I frequent in Astoria has a frequent movie goer program but I don’t think I can get credit at the Regal 'plexes in Manhattan such as the one on 14th Street that I do patronize and the one Battery Park City, which I don’t frequent.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 18, 2006 at 7:01 am

Bway… the 2nd link isn’t working.

Bway on January 18, 2006 at 6:47 am

Here’s a few more links that show the interior of the Empire:

This one is for the cafe in the balcony area:

View link

And from upstairs looking out to 42 St:
View link

Bway on January 18, 2006 at 6:42 am

Thanks so much for your description rendres.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 18, 2006 at 6:25 am

Thanks for sharing that REndres. I saw some double features here back in the ‘80’s, but could not recall if there was an upper balcony. However, what the foreman told you about moving the more shallow top balcony into the location of the lower balcony, does explain why the space seems more open now then I recall. My freinds and I always had our favorite seating location in these theaters which was typically dead center orchestra, just a row or two back behind the lip of the balcony overhang. We tried sitting a row or two ahead of the balcony on occasion, but once felt the back of our heads pelted with popcorn and cany (and Lord knows what else) from some rowdies above and had to revise our plans.

RobertEndres on January 18, 2006 at 5:53 am

Re: The balconies at the original Empire. There were indeed two. I worked a week there as a relief projectionist in an asbestos booth at the back of the top balcony. It was so steep there were hand guide rails at the ends of the seating rows (not really all that unusual in those houses). In addition there was an observation port cut into the booth at floor level so you could stand in the rewind room area inspecting film and look out and down at the top of the screen. They kept losing their intermission music tape decks because audience members would punch through the asbestos wall, get into the booth and take anything that was of interest.
Interestingly, I was in the theatre while the Empire 25 was under construction with a fellow co-worker, and he mentioned to the construction foreman that I had worked in the original Empire. The foreman asked if I would like to go “up top” to where the booth was, and I found myself in a hard hat going up stairs in construciton scaffolding. There is a picture taken of me in the hard had staring at one of the sculptures in the relief work at the top of the balcony. The foreman said that the original top balcony was dismantled and moved down to the position of the original first balcony and a new top balcony constructed in its place, which explains the lack of ornamentation on the top balcony. Since the orignal first balcony was much deeper, it would probably have interfered with the escalator paths crossing from the lobby under the proscenium. It was a revelation to see both the Eltinge mural over the proscenium restored and the work at the top of the auditorium. When I worked there the top balcony was locked off and kept dark. I would take the elevator up to the Brandt offices located above the the curved window you see at the front of the theatre to start my shifts, but at night the manager would have to unlock the gates leading to the balcony to let me down at the end of the show since the offices were closed. While I worked relief shifts up the street at Cine 42, the Empire was the only REAL 42nd St. theatre I got a chance to work in, and I remember it fondly when I see the restored auditorium at the Empire 25.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 18, 2006 at 5:29 am

> hidden levels … theaters 7 and 8 are located on a half level that can throw you if your not paying close attention

Sound like a good place to show Being John Malkovich.

John Fink
John Fink on January 18, 2006 at 4:58 am

There are plenty of worce theaters in New York. The lack of leg room at the Quad Cinema (as well as the lack of stadium seating with screens low to the ground…not fun since half the movies there are subtitled!) pops to mind. The Empire is probably the best mainstream mutiplex in Manhatten despite the fact there are hidden levels too it (theaters 7 and 8 are located on a half level that can throw you if your not paying close attention, but they have overstuffed leather seats, my guess is they are hidden away for special screenings). The presentation has always been good, Most of the time I’m ussually in one of those small upstairs theaters, but I have been in a few of the larger houses as well and I can’t complain about it…okay, one complaint, but not against AMC – that food court closed, I miss CPK ASAP.

Bway on January 18, 2006 at 4:52 am

Ed, I have to agree. While I have only seen three movies at the Empire, I must say that my experiences there those time were pleasant each time, and my comments on the place would probably mirror yours quite closely.

veyoung52 on January 18, 2006 at 4:46 am

Movieguy’s comments today about the screens being non-performated would seem to imply that the double-curved tourus screens are still being utilized. Is this a fact, and are the screens in all the auditoriums tourus? I remember when the first tourus screens began to appear in the Philadelphia area sometime in the early 90’s or late 80’s – cant remember which – it was kinda funny if you sat dead center in the auditorium, you could clearly hear nearly every conversation going on. It was as if the screen acted as some sort of audio “cone” which amplified every sound and focused it on this one point. At this time, pre-SDDS, the tourus presentations actually didn’t look too bad if you sat in the “sweet” spot. I remember now: “Godfather 3”, whatever year that was, ushered in a giant tourus installation at the AMC Marple ## in the western suburbs of Philly.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 18, 2006 at 3:58 am

Movieguy718… Have you sampled all 25 screens here (plus the 13 across the street at Loew’s E-Walk)? That must have been quite a project. Thanks for sharing your findings. I’ve only seen a couple of movies here and haven’t been back in a few years. The only film that jumps to mind is the Disney much-belated animated sequel to its own 1967 “Jungle Book” – I had taken my young son and his friend to a show up the block at the New Victory Theater and thought I’d extend the evening’s entertainment with the movie. It was my first opportunity to see a movie here and I was impressed with how they constructed their ticket lobby within the shell of the old Empire auditorium, although its a shame none of the detail under the balcony overhang was preserved. I’ve still not been up to the mezzanine area. Were there two balconies in the original theater? The upper level shown in KenRoe’s photo doesn’t appear to have any facade ornamentation at all. Perhaps it was stripped during its life as a grind house. Anyway, the film was projected nice and bright and the sound was loud and clear – and the stadium seating comfortable with excellent site lines all around. Perhaps things have deteriorated since then or I just wasn’t paying particular attention.

The flow of traffic in the theater is well maintained and – fittingly for the “new” 42nd Street – a bit reminiscent of an attraction at Disney World. The main lobby is basically one way going in to the theater with most of the escalators and exit routes leading patrons into the adjoining space to the east where they can dine at a neighboring restaurant (Applebees) or continue through a gift shop (where they’ll hopefully be stimulated to make an impulse purchase) on their way back to the street. Very calculated.

Movieguy718 on January 17, 2006 at 9:50 pm

This is a horrible, HORRIBLE theater. I have had exactly ONE good experience here (Shopgirl in their largest house – #6) since they opened.
The sound quality is inexcusable for a new theatre. And the sad thing is that the management of AMC KNOWS it is horrible. They blame it on the fact that their screens are “nonperforated,” that their surround speakers are all at ceiling heght and on the bare concrete construction, all making for a terrible echo effect – particularly in their larger houses – and that in turn makes dialog pretty much unintelligible unless they turn the volume WAY up – which is what happened with Shopgirl. Apparently, in house 6, they run the trailers low and the movie high. Supposedly because house 6 is the only one with a Dolby processor. (AMC = SDDS) Still, they ONLY do this in house 6. Beware.
Here’s a fun thing to do next time you visit one of the large houses in this plex… stand in the corridor leading into the theater – notice that the sound is clearer in the corridor than it is in the auditorium. Shameful.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 17, 2006 at 11:23 am

OOoops sorry here is the foyer view link I omitted above:
View link

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 17, 2006 at 11:20 am

A current view of the AMC Empire 25 foyer. This area was originally the auditorium of the old Eltinge/Laffmovie/Empire Theatre

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 14, 2006 at 6:09 am

They just listed the two locations under the large LAFFMOVIE banner in the ads. This is not uncommon in many markets where the chain name is the name of every theatre they own. I guess being guaranteed a laugh had huge appeal during the war years and there would have been comfort knowing these sites were there anytime you needed one.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 14, 2006 at 5:17 am

Apparently there was also a Laffmovie in Baltimore, and another in Newark. Wondering now if this was an actual chain in the 1940s and 50s.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 14, 2006 at 5:09 am

Two theatres with the same name, four blocks apart? How did they distinguish from each other in advertising?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 14, 2006 at 5:01 am

The Laffmovie appears in the New York Times in August 1942 and disappears in 1947.

A second Laffmovie opened In December 1942 on 46th Street. That one advertises until 1943.