AMC Empire 25

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

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I’ve requested Times Square Roulette and Down 42nd Street from the library and look forward to reading them. Their descriptions sound interesting.

I bought and read Ghosts of 42nd Street and I think I was disappointed by it, but I can’t remember exactly why. Mike (saps)

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Ed, check out TIMES SQUARE ROULETTE by Lynne B. Sagalyn, DOWN 42nd STREET by Marc Elliot, and GHOSTS of 42nd STREET by Anthony Bianco.

There are also several newspaper articles and sleazier books about tracking down the landlords of 42nd street. Many owners were buried in the actual paperwork by design so no one would go to prison during obscenity raids. Even arrested employees claimed not to know who the tenants and landlords actually were. Someone came by delivered or and picked up a bag of cash once a month in order to handle payrolls and rent.

The assumption was that the mafia bosses of shelter companies willed some of the properties to the Catholic Church who then became landlords of properties they were unaware of until NYC authorities started procedures to evict them. At least that is the story the church has claimed. Large payments were made to Disney, the church, and numerous shady companies by the Guiliani administration with Federal, State and City tax grants in order to clean up 42nd Street. To sweeten the deal, the Guiliani administration allowed the porn shops to relocate in the boroughs where they had been refused licenses before.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Saps, I stand corrected. Was thinking general election, not to mention the more earth-shattering events that took place on 9/11 that year.

That’s interesting information, Al. Is there title (or two) on the subject that you’d recommend? I’d love to read a well written and thorough accounting of the area’s redevelopment. Thanks, in advance.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Moviebuff82, the Empire is not a good example of what’s wrong. It is actually a pretty decent theatre. Too many mindless CGI superhero movies are what’s wrong. There used to be a better balance.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Ed, I have few book on the subject and they credit/blame the Dinkins administration, not Dinkins himself, for the changes. The deal with Disney was made while Dinkins was mayor but it was predicated on cleaning up the street first.

Guliani did have connections with the Gambini Family and the Catholic Church, two of the major landlords of the x-rated shops and brothels that operated down 42nd street. He helped sign off on the forced evictions that made the project eventually happen, but delayed everything by threatening to derail it all if he was not put down front and center of the deal.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on January 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm

The Empire is a good example of what’s wrong with movies today in the box office.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Ed, 9/11 was the Democratic primary day, I think, so it was an election day that would lead to the eventual election of Bloomberg in November.

And I’d like the lead photo to be of the Empire as it existed in its heyday, but there doesn’t seem to be a good one in the photo section, nor a photo of the interior.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Ha. He was very good at making it seem as if he had a hand in everything! I always had the impression that he was instrumental in the ousting of all porn-related businesses in the area (and, indeed, city-wide), if not actually a part of the contractual negotiations and planning decisions.

But I suppose you’re right. If he came into office in ‘94 and 42nd Street was already pretty much a ghost town by then, he probably had very little to do with it at all other than, as you say, Al, stay out of the way. The New Victory opened in '95 and the Disney deal at the New Amsterdam was a State deal, wasn’t it? Most of the wanton demolition of the big old Broadway cinemas began under Koch’s watch and rolled into Dinkins’ lone term. Not sure what the politics were at the time and to what extent either administration was involved in those transactions.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on January 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Someone should change the photo, as this is an old picture of the Empire and not a current one. I never heard about the empire theater until i read an ad for it in the NY Times, the best newspaper to read movie ads and listings, not to mention local reviews of big movies. When the theater opened, there were plenty of ads and showtimes. As the theater operates into its 13th year as an AMC, the movie ad business has shrunk to a few, and fewer people are reading the Times and other papers and looking online.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on January 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Actually Giuliani’s only contribution was not stopping it as long as he had the photo op.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

You meant two months before the election, I’m sure – two days before the 9/11 attacks. Yes, the Disneyfication of Times Square, for better or for worse, was almost entirely completed during the Giuliani administration. Lindsay attempted it and some groundwork was performed during Koch’s reign, but this was Rudy’s baby and all Bloomberg is doing at this point is dotting the “i” in Disney. I really don’t have much of a problem with favoring pedestrians over vehicular traffic – but then, I don’t have to navigate the streets of Manhattan for a living.

Sure, the ‘70’s and '80’s saw a much seedier and dangerous Duece and Times Square, and, yes, as one whose mispent youth included countless hours in the area’s numerous movie houses, I do look back on that period with rose-tinted glasses. Regardless, I miss the character and honky-tonk atmosphere – the unique sense of place, not to mention the open space of the old Times Square (never mind Disneyfication, what about the canyonization of the streets with all those new glass office towers).

No doubt that home video and on-demand cable services would have eventually doomed the grindhouses and porn palaces to oblivion anyway and the area would have needed some sort of reinvention. It’s just so very disappointing that the overarching concept for Times Square’s makeover has been theme-park plasticity and ersatz nostalgia.

Do I miss the crime and grime? Not particularly, but how about a little urban authenticity? Reminds me a little of what has happened to the South Street Seaport. They essentially built a shopping mall out of it and then kicked the Fulton Fish Market (the area’s raison d'etre) out to the Bronx! At least while the Fish Market was still there, the place had a real and vital functionality and sense of history. But, I guess the tourists couldn’t stand the smell of fish while sipping their cappucinos and posing for photos in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, and so the market was consigned to the bowels of one of the city’s most far flung industrial areas! And so it goes…

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on January 10, 2012 at 9:23 am

Except for the fact that, by the time I moved to New York City on 9/9/01 (two days before the original election date for the Mayoral race that would eventually elect Bloomberg), the Disneyfication of Times Square was pretty much concluded.

The Empire 25 as it’s stood for the past dozen years really isn’t much of a cinema treasure. It was an interesting experiment that didn’t work out as well as it could have, aesthetically. As a powerhouse grosser, it obviously has worked out extremely well, and in the end, that’s what a movie theatre is supposed to do. Make money.

AGRoura
AGRoura on January 10, 2012 at 6:30 am

Emperor Bloomberg destroyed Times Square by turning it into a plaza.

Bway
Bway on January 10, 2012 at 4:48 am

And in the 70’s and 80’s it was a hellhole. Better what it is now, than what it was then. The refurbishment of Times Square didn’t destroy the “old” Times Square, the 70’s and 80’s destroyed the old Times Square.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on January 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm

i agree. Ever since the 90’s and 2000’s this place has been Disneyfied.

Marcel
Marcel on January 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I’ve been here and it’s ok, it takes just as long to get in and out of here as it does to see the movie (I don’t like escalators). I miss Times Square when it was marquee after marquee and competitive competition and prices.

Garth
Garth on January 9, 2012 at 6:33 am

moviebuff I saw the digital presentation due to timing concerns. I plan to see the movie again in IMAX at a later date.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on January 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Ed, if it isn’t custom built, it is fake IMAX. Sony opened Lincoln Square with a real one.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Is the Empire’s IMAX conversion a real lie like most multiplex conversions? I know this didn’t open with an IMAX facility, but I would have thought this might have been one of the better conversions around town.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on January 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm

did you see it in liemax or digital

Garth
Garth on January 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Saw MI4 here yesterday. Still a great place to see a movie. A small complaint – the popcorn is tasteless compared to the Regal 13.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on January 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Nope but i’ve seen pictures of the interior online on CT and other picture sites..and i go right by there every time i visit the big apple. I also go by the regal ewalk as well.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Justin, have you been inside here yet? (It seems you practically live at the Rockaway!)

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on July 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

how does it compare with the one in rockaway? The one is ok….the seats near the front of screen suck.