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Empire Theatre (42nd Street)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The theatre in its current use as the lobby of the AMC Empire 25 multiplex movie theatre.
The theatre in its current use as the lobby of the AMC Empire 25 multiplex movie theatre.
Interior of the Eltinge Theatre in 1912
Interior of the Eltinge Theatre in 1912

The Empire Theatre is a former Broadway theatre located on 42nd Street in Manhattan, New York City.

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It originally opened as the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre,[1] in 1912, designed by noted theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb[1] It was built by the Hungarian-born impresario A. H. Woods,[2] and named for his star Julian Eltinge, an American stage and film actor best known as a female impersonator.[1][3] Eltinge himself never performed there.[4] Woods moved his executive offices from the Putnam Building to the entire upper floor in August 1912.[5]

Its first production, on September 11, 1912 was Bayard Veiller's Within the Law, a hit that ran for more than a year.[6] Woods co-owned the play and its rights with Lee Shubert. By 1917, productions all over the United States had taken in revenues of about $2.44 million ($32.6 million in 2019 dollars).[a][7]

Originally specializing in light comedies,[3] it suffered during the Great Depression and in 1931 became a burlesque theatre,[3] then a movie theater in 1942.[1] It was renamed the Empire Theatre in 1954,[1] after the demolition of the previous theatre of the same name.

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).[3] Two large balloons representing Abbott and Costello were rigged to appear as if they were dragging the theater westward. The comedy team first performed together at the Eltinge in 1935.

In its new location directly opposite Loews' E-Walk movie theatre (now owned by Regal Cinemas), the shell of the theatre auditorium was converted into a lobby and lounge for a 25-screen AMC Theatres multiplex, the AMC Empire 25, AMC's first theatre in New York City.[8] Escalators pass through the former proscenium arch of the stage to the newly built auditoriums above. The theater opened in April 2000 at an estimated cost of $70 million, making it one of the most expensive movie theatres ever built. In its first year, it did not screen many major films but in its second year it became one of the most popular in the world, grossing over $500,000 a week.[3][9][10]


  1. ^ Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H. (2020). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved September 22, 2020. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
  1. ^ a b c d e "Empire Theatre-ibdb:The Internet Broadway Database". The Broadway League. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  2. ^ "That Eltinge Elevator" (PDF). Variety. XXVI (10): 11c. 11 May 1912.
  3. ^ a b c d e John Holusha (February 28, 1998). "The Theater's on a Roll, Gliding Down 42d Street; Fast-Moving Times Square Revitalization Leaves No Stone or Building Unturned". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  4. ^ Frank Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence; McNeilly, Donald (2007). "Julian Eltinge". Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America, Volume 1. Psychology Press. pp. 353–4. ISBN 9780415938532
  5. ^ "Woods New Quarters" (PDF). Variety. 28 (11): 11 [89]. 15 August 1912. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  6. ^ Henderson, Mary C. & Greene, Alexis (2008). The Story of 42nd Street: The Theaters, Shows, Characters, and Scandals of the World's Most Notorious Street. Back Stage Books. pp. 147–148. ISBN 9780823030729.
  7. ^ "The Silent Drama" (PDF). The Sunday Oregonian. 36 (22). June 3, 1917. p. 4.5.
  8. ^ "Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX". Retrieved April 27, 2021.
  9. ^ "AMC Empire 25". Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  10. ^ Hayes, Dade (August 20, 2001). "Gotham plex riding high". Variety. p. 6.

External links

This page was last edited on 5 October 2021, at 14:46
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