AMC Empire 25

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

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AMC Empire 25

Originally located at 236 W. 42nd Street. The Empire Theatre was the eighth theatre on W. 42nd Street and was built for producer Al H. Woods who chose architect Thomas W. Lamb to design the theatre. It was opened on September 11, 1912 with the melodrama “Within the Law” as the 880-seat Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre. Seating was provided in orchestra, two balconies and eight boxes. Named for Julian Eltinge, the top female impersonator of the American stage, who was Woods star performer. Julian Eltinge never played in the theatre named after him. The opening attraction at the theatre was a huge success, playing for 541 performances. Other hits include John Barrymore in “The Yellow Ticket”, “The Song of Songs”, “Fair and Warmer”, “Up in Mabel’s Room”, “The Girl in the Limousine” and “Ladies Night”. “Blackbirds of 1928” was another hit. Laurence Olivier in “Murder on the Second Floor” only managed to play for 45 performances in 1929. Alice Brady & Clark Gable in “Love, Honor and Betray” played in 1930 to be followed by its final legit production “First Night” presented in 1931 for 88 performances. It then reopened as the Eltinge Burlesque Theatre, featuring burlesque & ‘talkies’. It was later renamed Empire Theatre.

Converted into a movie theatre in summer of 1942, first as the 759-seat Laffmovie Theatre screening short comedy movies and cartoons. That lasted until 1953 when it was renamed the Empire Theatre again and returned to feature movies. The theatre finally closed, seemingly for good, in the mid-1980’s.

Following the renaissance of W. 42nd Street, AMC decided to make the entire former Empire Theatre the lobby of its new new flagship 25-screen megaplex. Located just west of Times Square, this immaculate multi-level multiplex is a prime example of theatre renovation and reuse.

The lobby of this luxurious, five-level theatre has been built inside the shell of the old Empire Theatre. On March 1, 1998 in order to build the massive multi-screen complex, the Empire Theatre was lifted up and moved down the street (all 3,700 tons of it) to its present location. Once that massive job was completed, a new 25-screen theatre was built around it and contained 4,916 seats. The multiplex was designed by the architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle, and opened April 21, 2000. An IMAX screen opened on September 26, 2008, the first digital IMAX in New York City.

The historic façade has been left largely intact, while a new marquee has been added. Just above the box office is a beautiful mural depicting Julian Eltinge, originally painted by a French artist, Arthur Brounet. The mural was restored by Harriet Irgang, the director of Rustin Levenson Art Conservation. Initially, the former balconies were reopened as the Times Square Café, but this has been closed for several years and the space is currently unused.

The megaplex shows first run mainstream and art films.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 765 comments)

moviebuff82 on January 2, 2021 at 5:17 pm

Come March it will be one year since this theater and many others in NYC and other affected areas of New York State were closed and still are due to the pandemic if the vaccine helps stop the spread of the virus and make it go away. AMC is in dire straits and is raising money to help starve off bankruptcy. 10 years ago AMC survived the recession that occured from that year until late 2002 and was taken private for the first time two years later by JPMorgan and Apollo until Wanda took over in 2012 and made AMC public again in 2015; since then its stock has trended downward.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on January 25, 2021 at 2:08 pm

The CEO of AMC Entertainment discussed the grim future of movie theatres in a recent New York Times article viewable here

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on January 26, 2021 at 4:09 am

CorusFTW on January 28, 2021 at 4:07 pm

Theatre rivalries are a bit common for America. Why is AMC keeping this massive 25 screen megaplex when it’s across from the smaller Regal E-Walk 13? After the pandemic eventually ends, which do you guys think would permanently close?

TYoung on January 28, 2021 at 10:11 pm

@CorusFTW. This theatre will probably reopen. Pre-pandemic it was routinely the top grossing theatre in the country and regal across the street was similarly busy for 13 screens. I would expect both to reopen and survival would depend on how quickly people return to movies in general or the landlord.

rayman29 on January 29, 2021 at 7:22 am

Empire will stay open no matter what. Given its size and its location, even if AMC ceased operations nationally or just this location, another company would step in. I could see E-Walk closing because it’s so close to Empire. But that’s the main reason. While I think movie theaters will never go away, soon there will be be a lot less than it was just before the pandemic. In a smaller maket Enpire would be the one more likely to close, but in Manhattan, there’s still enough demand for 25 screens, but 38 might soon be too many.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 23, 2021 at 2:08 pm

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, movie theaters in the five boroughs of New York City can reopen on March 5th at 25% capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen. Details of the announcement here

xbs2034 on March 6, 2021 at 5:48 am

In addition to Lincoln Square, this theater will also be showing Tenet in IMAX beginning on March 12

ridethectrain on March 6, 2021 at 6:53 pm

The real IMAX theatre for Tenet is AMC Lincoln Square IMAX Theatre, the only location that has 70MM IMAX.

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