AMC Empire 25

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

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Showing 476 - 500 of 662 comments

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 5, 2006 at 2:27 am

AMC has these movie money cards that debit the amount at each use. I suspect homeless people get these from charities who fear giving out cash to alcoholics and drug addicts.

Every time I have been to this theatre I have found bag ladies and eccentrics around (one brought had a cat in a bag) although they were probably not homeless.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 4, 2006 at 6:13 pm

Ha… That sounds like the Duece movie-going experience I remember from the 1980’s!!! Of course, back then, tickets were only a $2.50 and once nestled in a favorite seat in the rear corner of the auditorium, one could settle in long term without having to move from room to room!!!

Anyway, Fever Dog, I doubt any one homeless person plunks down the $10.75 per day. Spending whatever money they scrounge up on a movie ticket is just a rare treat to deluxe accommodations for them. I’ll bet this is more of an issue in the cold winter months than during the rest of the year.

FeverDog on November 3, 2006 at 8:52 am

I’ve encountered the problem of homeless people using this theater as a shelter in recent years. After getting fed up with snoring, talking to themselves and leaving bodily fluids behind (I won’t give details)I asked the staff about this and they said very nonchalantly.
“They buy a ticket and go from theater to thetaer and stay here all day.” Is this acceptable? Can I do the same, or will I be stopped? Should they have such an apathetic view about homeless people hanging out in the theater? And where do homeless people get $10.75 a day anyways?

William on November 3, 2006 at 6:22 am

It’s their art film select program. As they put it: “AMC SELECT Special Films for select tastes”. Most of the films are independent films from the big studios and smaller studios and film makers.

View link

hardbop on November 3, 2006 at 5:27 am

Every week in the movie listings in the “Times” weekend guide there are words in the AMC listing under almost every film are the words “AMC SELECT; Special Engagement.” What does that mean?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 11, 2006 at 10:19 am

Here’s another shot from the same site but taken in 1994 when that “poetry project” was still adorning the marquees of the Duece’s vacant grind houses. That block was like a ghost-town during that time, except for the Grand Luncheonette still operating and the old Harris still showing double features. All it was missing were some tumbleweeds rolling around the place – and some Ennio Morricone music!

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 11, 2006 at 9:58 am

This page has a nice shot of the by-then long-closed Liberty and Empire Theaters in 1996, with their vacant marquees all lit up during a snow storm. You can see the “Pandora Theater” sheilds on the doors to the Empire as well as the faux lower facade elements that were left over set dressings for the location shoot of “The Last Action Hero” in ‘92.

When this photo was taken, the New Victory Theater had already been re-opened as a children’s theater the year before and Disney’s restoration of the New Amsterdam was well underway. Nineteen Ninety-Six would also see the last porno establishments on the block permanently closed to make way for redevelopment, including the entire stretch of storefronts across the street from Eighth Avenue to the Selwyn Theater building which housed a number of peep-shows, adult book shops and the XXX Harem Theater.

You can just make out the glow from the lit-up marquee of the Movieplex 42 at the right edge of the photo – which would also finish out its short life before the year was out.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 2:41 pm

I was thinking the same thing, longislandmovies.

longislandmovies on October 10, 2006 at 2:25 pm

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

42ndStreetMemories on October 10, 2006 at 11:03 am

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 10:33 am

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 8:12 am

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 8:03 am

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 7:54 am

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

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on October 10, 2006 at 7:11 am

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 7:05 am

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 3:31 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 6:38 am

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 2:29 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 1:58 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 7, 2006 at 10:51 pm

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 7, 2006 at 10:30 pm

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 10:41 am

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 5:21 am

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 5:15 am

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?