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 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 735 comments)

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…

moviebuff82 on March 17, 2020 at 4:50 pm

As many of you know this theater and the rest of the chain will be closed for up to 6 to 8 weeks because of the virus that’s going on around the world. Regal was the first then AMC. Bow Tie also affected. Hopefully moviegoing will return back to normal…

moviebuff82 on April 22, 2020 at 3:34 am

Yesterday marked 20 years since the theater opened as a megaplex. It’s also the second oldest amc still in operation in the tri state area behind the AMC Hamilton 24, which opened a year before in 1999.

moviebuff82 on April 30, 2020 at 5:35 am

When this theater reopens this summer expect no Universal movies anytime soon due to the successful on demand release of Trolls 2 by the studio forced AMC to not show films from Universal and Focus. Regal followed suit afterwards, and maybe Cinemark might follow suit if this keeps up unless the issue is resolved.

hdtv267 on April 30, 2020 at 10:14 am

yes- that is a chainwide issue with all AMC theatres,. Is there any reason it affects this particular location than the others, meaning – why post it here on this page? If any one of them would really need that piece of news, you think it would be the one in Universal City, right?

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