AMC Empire 25

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

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Additional Info

Operated by: AMC Theatres

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Firms: Beyer Blinder Belle, Gould Evans Associates

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Beaux-Arts, Egyptian, Greek Revival

Previous Names: Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre, Eltinge Burlesque Theatre, Laffmovie Theatre, Empire Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 212.398.3939

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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 774 comments)

CorusFTW on August 22, 2021 at 8:18 pm

This theatre opened on April 21, 2000, with the movies: U-571 (4 screens), Gossip (2 screens), Mission to Mars, Ready to Rumble, Pitch Black, Being John Malkovich, Beyond the Mat, Boiler Room, Drowning Mona, Family Tree, Ghost Dog, Price of Glory, Three Strikes, The Tigger Movie, Trois and 9th Gate in the regular screens. It also had some small screens at the top called “Top of the Empire.” Its opening movies include Cotton Mary, Me Myself & I, All About My Mother, Casablanca, The Ten Commandments, 42nd Street and Topsy Turvy.

moviebuff82 on September 17, 2021 at 6:59 am

By the end of the year, new currencies related to crypto will be accepted at all locations including this one.

Joe Pinney
Joe Pinney on November 1, 2021 at 12:09 pm

In 1935, when this theatre was known as the Eltinge Theatre and was used for burlesque, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello first met and performed here on the stage together.

In 1998, as part of the renewal of 42nd Street led by the New 42nd Street coalition and real estate developer Bruce Ratner, the entire theatre was lifted off its foundation and moved westward approximately 170 feet (52 m) to its present location.

In the newer location, the shell of the theatre auditorium was converted into a lobby and lounge for the AMC Empire 25, AMC’s first theatre in New York City. Escalators pass through the former proscenium arch of the stage to the newly built auditoriums above. The theater opened at an estimated cost of $70 million, making it one of the most expensive movie theatres ever built.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on March 3, 2022 at 5:39 am

Greedy news on the new “Batman” feature: click here

curmudgeon on March 3, 2022 at 5:48 am

Brilliant way (not!) to encourage audiences back to the movie-going experience.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 3, 2022 at 4:07 pm

Many considered this location to be AMC’s flagship operation.

ridethectrain on May 13, 2022 at 4:09 pm

Don’t understand why AMC can’t due a upgrade of theatre complex. This theatre open 6 months after E-walk. This theatre only got an IMAX, DOLBY and PRIME upgrades. Regal did 3 renovations on E-Walk across the street.

m00se1111 on May 14, 2022 at 11:52 am

wow, there’s so much bad grammar and misspellings in that vitriol.

Screen X is proprietary to Regal in the States. I don’t really believe many (if any) AMC complexes have theatres for 4DX or DBox.

So what exactly should they do?

ridethectrain on May 15, 2022 at 8:59 pm

First, I didn’t say anything about AMC getting Screen X, Screen X is a format that also used in CGV Cinemas. The remaining 22 screens need to seats and the restrooms are not as maintained as Regal.

CorusFTW on May 16, 2022 at 5:47 am

I agree that the megaplex is due for a major renovation. From what I’ve seen from photos from Google Maps, AMC Empire 25 has not replaced their seats in their non-Prime/Dolby auditoriums. The IMAX was also only a retrofit of one of their larger auditoriums, meaning it’s smaller than AMC Lincoln Square’s and it has a single laser system. I see two solutions for what AMC could do to save this theatre. One, they replace their rocker seats with recliners and update the 2000s decor like what they did to other cinemas. Two, cut their losses and close the cinema for the developer to repurpose and surrender to the better-maintained Regal E-Walk across the street. I know the latter is unlikely to happen, but does anyone else agree that this cinema is due for a major upgrade?

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