I love movie theaters, and I love visiting different theaters, though I admit I am hard pressed to spend some of my vacation time in a movie theater, because I always feel like I should be doing something more ‘local.’ My personal favorite theaters are smaller, more arthouse theaters, as they usually have a stronger sense of character about them. I always love going to the Ritz, Ambler or County theaters, but I also have fond memories of Cinema Center 3, in Newark DE, where I went to college. It was within easy walking distance from campus, and had the top new releases (loved seeing Snakes on a Plane there) as well as hosting film festivals and, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night at 11:59PM.
Although I have never worked in a movie theater, I often think I might have enjoyed being a projectionist, back when that was actually a job. In any case, the inner workings of a movie theater have always intrigued me, and perhaps my projectionist dream is one of romanticism more than actuality. In any case, The Hollywood Reporter recently had an excellent article about the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd Street in Times Square.
I have walked by this theater many times, but since I usually only venture up to New York for day trips, I don’t often have the time to take in a movie (especially because their regular tickets are $13 each!). However, this may change the next time I am there. The Empire has a lot of interesting things about it. It’s the top-grossing theater in the entire country, and they use their 25 screens to show a huge variety of films. I’m sure at our local AMC Neshaminy 24 this weekend, they’ll use half the screens on Thor and Fast Five alone, which is nice if you want to see those movies, but not so nice if you’re trying to see POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.
Not only that, the theater does have a long history, dating back to its original opening in 1912. By the Depression, it was a burlesque house that was eventually shut down by Mayor LaGuardia, later becoming a grindhouse/adult film theater by the 1950s, and remained that way until the Giuliani era Times Square clean up. Running a theater that size is obviously a massive undertaking, and THR makes it seem like the Empire is a well-oiled machine, despite AMC not allowing their employees to comment by name.
The Empire is now on my radar for a future NYC visit, and I highly recommend reading the full article.