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 architecural 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 facade 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 Cafe, but this have 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 730 comments)

SethLewis on September 22, 2019 at 7:01 am

In the 60s 70s pictures would be booked on Broadway and showing at the deuce…With smaller screens, loyalty cards it now makes sense to be booked on both sides of the road…but it is a shame because this might once have been an exclusive for the Plaza or dare I say the Paris

poland626 on October 10, 2019 at 4:22 am

I still remember going to Eagle Eye opening weekend and being shocked at how SMALL the IMAX was. It was the same price as lincoln square at the time but was tiny. They even gave a questionnaire out at the end I remember, I wrote how I hated how small the screen was. I have NEVER been back to that IMAX.

moviebuff82 on October 10, 2019 at 12:42 pm

How is it compared to the Dolby and Prime screens here?

moviebuff82 on October 15, 2019 at 12:53 pm

AMC recently introduced an on demand streaming service where stubs members can buy or rent movies online. I’m very happy that AMC is going in the right direction while attendance at its theaters remain flat. Sadly the football games are not showing at any of its NYC area theatres including this one.

moviebuff82 on October 21, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Now if AMC can get rid of mice that have plagued this theater since its opening nearly 20 years ago. Forget the bedbugs, rodents are everywhere. Look out for them next time you see a Star Wars or Marvel movie…

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on October 21, 2019 at 7:56 pm

I saw “ONCE UPON A TIME..” and “GOLDFINCH” here and didn’t see any bedbugs or rodents. I guess they only show up for STAR WARS and MARVEL movies.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on November 20, 2019 at 7:42 pm

I think Disney has their eye on AMC.

42ndStreetMemories on November 21, 2019 at 10:32 am

I wish they had created a new record to this theater since it’s not the original Empire except for the facade. I have fond memories of the Empire and miss the postings for it pre-AMC.

moviebuff82 on December 16, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Looks like AMC will no longer be #1 in the world…Cineworld is buying Cineplex of Canada…

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