AMC Empire 25

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

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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.

hardbop on February 23, 2006 at 4:31 am

What was the movie? I have never experienced this, but I hope you e-mailed the AMC people. I had a problem there and e-mailed the national HQ and they were all apologetic and I received some passes. The best thing to do is go right to national HQ because that let’s the manager of the theatre know his superiors are aware of the complaint. They’ll forward the complaint to the AMC’s manager and he’ll respond.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 22, 2006 at 9:28 pm

I’ve been here several times recently and have not expereinced anything like that at all.

Movieguy718 on February 22, 2006 at 9:07 pm

PS – I was wondering where all the people from the concession line went. Perhaps they have a crack den in there someplace??

Movieguy718 on February 22, 2006 at 9:05 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!?!

John Fink
John Fink on February 3, 2006 at 6:06 am

AMC has 4 months to sell off E-Walk

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.