AMC Empire 25

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

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Showing 476 - 500 of 654 comments

longislandmovies on October 10, 2006 at 10:25 pm

frankie —youcould have said the couple……….no need for black

42ndStreetMemories on October 10, 2006 at 7:03 pm

Great shot, Ed. Classic image of the Deuce in general back then, especially the guy sleeping 2-3 rows from the top. Usually a relatively calm audience, except when the snoring started, most likely more than one guy at a time, with others screaming for them to “shut up”. Great stuff.

I wonder what was playing. jerry the k

frankie on October 10, 2006 at 6:33 pm

I went here with a friend to see the horrible “All The King’s Men.” The black couple behind us wouldn’t shut up, so we had to change our seat.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Mike… I just checked the Warner’s Theater page and there seems to be a “Manhattan” aka for that house. I don’t see one for the Hellinger/Hollywood. I also found this CT listing for the Stanley Theater on Seventh Ave.

RobertEndres on October 10, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Ed, that’s the Empire booth all right. That’s one of the steeper balconies (note the handrails at the end of each aisle). Also notice the light coming through what looks like a hole at the bottom of the booth on the right hand side of the picture. That hole (which I remember as being squared off and neater) is at floor level. You could stand in the rewind “room” at the bench which ran at right angles to the front wall just next to the entrance door at that end of the booth and ran to the back wall, and look through an opening in that “wall” at bench level, across the booth and through the floor level opening to see at least the top of the screen. It may not be the steepest angle booth I’ve ever been in, but it was close. Notice also the conduit run on the outside of the booth. Since it was an asbestos booth, the “walls” were just asbestos panels probably around an inch thick, thus there was no place to bury the conduit in the walls. A lot of the booths built in former legit theatres were of similar construction, just dumped in at the back of balconies, in this case on a platform built up over the seats a few rows out. It hadn’t changed any from 1958 when I was there in the 70’s, but the upper balcony wasn’t open and was kept locked up until the show was over, and the staff unlocked the gates to let me out. Great shot!

Mikeoaklandpark on October 10, 2006 at 3:54 pm

I beleive that it was the Mark Hellinger aka Times Square Church

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 3:11 pm

While I’m harking back to old posts, RobertR posted this newspaper clipping back in May and I was wondering if anyone could identify the Manhattan Theater at 51st and B'way where “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is playing and the Stanley on 7th Ave near 42nd Street where the seemingly racist wartime propaganda film “Ravaged Earth” is playing. Would these be AKA’s for the old Warner and Rialto Theaters, respectively?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 3:05 pm

This link features an early Diane Arbus photo entitled “42nd Street movie theater audience, NYC, 1958” which is part of a travelling Arbus exhibition (“Revelations” is the name of the exhibit and the accompanying book). If you click on the photo, you’ll get a larger image.

I first came across this image on another website, but it was very small and not expandable so I thought it might have been taken in the Liberty Theater. But then I found this larger image and a look at the ceiling ornamentation left no doubt in my mind that it is a shot of the old Empire’s 2nd balcony and projection booth. If Robert Endres checks into this page, maybe he can confirm that – harking back to his post of January 18th, 2006, about a relief gig he once pulled here. Notice how the projection booth was built out over a good portion of the shallow and steep upper balcony — there are seats up around the sides of the booth. I wonder if that was common in some of the taller and shallower playhouses that were converted to cinemas. The Liberty was very similar.

In any event, it is a great shot. And right from Jerry Kovar’s favorite period on the Duece!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 15, 2006 at 11:31 pm

Here’s a 1993 article I found on the NY Times' online archives. The link should work indefinitely as the article is free – at worst you may have to register on the website which is free. Anyway, it’s an interesting piece about how the Empire’s facade was dressed up (and then distressed) for filming of the Schwarzenegger movie “The Last Action Hero.” The article was written at a time when re-development plans for the Duece had stalled for a couple of years and most of the old Duece grind houses sat empty in a state of advancing decay awaiting their fate.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 2, 2006 at 2:38 pm

I have been to this location three times in the past week and the presentation and audiences were all good experiences. The concession stand and other staff members were excellent although I saw no sign of a manager.

That blinking red light must must be night vision CCTV and it is truly distracting. The bathrooms just need a good thorough cleaning. Daily staff appear to be doing a good job.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 30, 2006 at 10:29 pm

I remember all the hooplah when they had that giant inflated Lou Costello “tug” the Empire down the block to its present location. The process made it to segments on all the local news channels at the time as well as all the daily papers. I remember thinking back on my days seeing films on 42nd Street when I read the about the plans to have the shell of the theater used as an entrance to a large multiplex and how escalators would transport ticketholders through the old proscenium, thinking what a great idea that was. The original Empire was a pretty cozy place and had virtually no lobby space. Converting the old auditorium to one of the multiplex’s screens would have been impossible unless the complex’s lobby was built adjacent to the theater and one entered along the side wall of the auditorium. As far as returning it to legitimate use, it might have made a nice companion to the jewel box Victory at the other end of the Duece and surely would have been re-fitted to under 500 seats in order to expand the lobby and skirt the union demands of legit B'way houses. I wonder if it would have found a niche as the New Victory did.

LuisV on June 30, 2006 at 9:58 pm

I have to say that I’m kind of shocked at the posting of Movieguy718. I have been going to the Empire 25 since it opened and have NEVER had an unpleasant movie going experience there. I have a large circle of friends who also go there and I never hear anyone say anything negative. I’m not disputing his experience, but it totally hasn’t been mine and I still very much look forward to going there. I live in Chelsea and now that they have finally upgraded the dumpy Chelsea Cinemas I will be going there more frequently but only because it’s closer. p.s. I feel the same way about Regal’s Union Square. I absolutely hate that theater and have never had a good experience there. But that’s me! :–)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on June 8, 2006 at 6:51 am

That gadget with the blinking red light sounds like a night vision goggle. When a bootleg DVD is traced to a particular theatre, the goggles and bag searches can help track cam corder pirates on new movies.

I don’t think we can hold AMC Empire responsible for Times Square audiences but their staff behaviour and absence of duty managers is indeed often unforgivable.

Movieguy718 on June 8, 2006 at 6:30 am

Hey Steve Marcus… I WISH it was an exaggeration – and if you recall, there were already a couple shootings here.
A friend of mine dragged me here again for DaVinci Code (she had a bunch of free passes from HER last disasterous trip here) – at the auditorium entrance we were frisked, scanned and my gym bag was thoroughly searched for video eqipment by a couple of goons. When we got into the auditorium, the stench of pot ALMOST overwhelmed the stench of vomit (or sewage or whatever it is.) It was a 10:40 PM showing – we walked into the auditorium at 10:40 maybe 10:41 and the movie was well underway. They had started EARLY. I asked one of the goons when and why the movie had started early: “Maybe ten minutes ago – it’s a long movie and we want to go home” was the reply. Would he do something about the people smoking? He would try to find security. Exactly. Consequently, people were still coming in at 11:00. Since we are usually innundated with 20 minutes of commercial and trailers, everyone knows that the movie never starts on time, much less EARLY!!!
The smoking and almost constant use of cellphones was of no concern to the goon who was standing right at the edge of the screen using some apparatus with a blinking red light to scope the audience. To be completely fair, the blinking light at the screen didn’t seem to concern anyone in the audience except me.
To end our most recent Empire experience: neither of the two toilet stalls in the mens room had a lock, one of them was stopped up. No paper towels, no water in one of the two sinks. No paper towels in the ladies room either. A bum was sleeping on the little bench by the restrooms. ALL the escalators were off on the way out.
The presentation (in theatre 6) was fine though.
I don’t have a beef with AMC. The Empire is the only AMC I have ever been to. However, it sure doesn’t make me wanna run out to find others just like it.
I never said the E-Walk was a paradise; merely that it is a more pleasant and reliable experience (in a good way) than the Empire. And quite honestly, since AMC has taken over the E-walk, there have been some improvents there (theatre 13 has had “ghosts” for years, it’s finally been fixed.)
I don’t think that my problems at the AMC have anything to do with the AMC corporation. I think it’s the people working at the thaetre level that are clueless and careless. They KNOW what kind of crowd they attract, and should staff their theatre accordingly. It is something the E-Walk has done since day one. Whenever they show slasher/horror/“urban” movies there, the place is overrun with security.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 5, 2006 at 6:41 pm

Bway… LuisV is correct. After most of those theaters closed and sat vacant for a few years, the city allowed some artists to display these short phrases on the marquees of all the Duece grind houses. Only the Harris was spared, as it was still in full operation during the project. I can’t recall if the Harem was still in operation at the time. The Roxy Twin adjacent to the New Amsterdam was still advertising porn, while the other Roxy Twin by the Empire was in mid conversion to the shortlived Movieplex 42. The Anco had been converted to retail for a number of years by this time. All the others, however, had these sayings on the marquees. A different saying on each face of each marquee to boot. Check out the other CT pages for the Victory, New Amsterdam, Selwyn, Lyric, Liberty, Harris and Times Square theaters for other shots I took at the same time.

LuisV on June 5, 2006 at 1:21 pm

I believe that was part of the poetry project that hung on almost all of the marquees while the city was trying to figure out how to reivive the area.

Bway on June 5, 2006 at 1:15 pm

Ed, was that a movie playing at the Empire, “WHat will save us now that sex won’t”, or was that something to say that now that porn is out of the theater, what will keep it alive?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 26, 2006 at 5:11 pm

Sorry for the misidentification, Robert R. Thank YOU for that ad! By the way… what is the Stanley on 7th near 42nd? I presume the Manhattan Theater listed above it at 51st and B'way is the old Warner that was next door to the original Roseland Ballroom?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 26, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Great ad, Warren! You think anyone could get away with such a racist Al Quaeda caricature today as the Japanese one seen in the center of that block of ads?

RobertR on May 26, 2006 at 1:27 am

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

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 24, 2006 at 12:38 am

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 10:29 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 11:15 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 9, 2006 at 12:28 am

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 7:16 pm

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