May 4, 2011
In 2001, AMC opened the Empire theatre, a 25-screen maxi-plex on what had previously been one of the seediest blocks in NYC; 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenue. Today, AMC's Empire is the number one movie theater in America with yearly gross ticket sales around $25 millions dollars. This week, the Hollywood Reporter has an extensive article about the theatre and the surprisingly important role it plays in the American film industry.
I remember when this theatre first opened nearly 10 years ago and I was a regular. Not only was it easily the nicest theatre in the city, with big screens and large stadium seating (unique at that time) but, in addition to blockbusters, it showed indie films as well. It was a vast improvement over the suburban shoeboxes that pass for cinemas at the Angelika Theater and I was a quick convert to going uptown.
However, due to the theatre's popularity, ticketing there in recent years can be a bit of a hassle. Usually half of the automatic machines are out of order and the queue can back up to the door in the massive lobby. Often there are just two ticket sellers behind a counter that accommodates 12. These glitches were not mentioned in THR but could go a long way to improving the experience at America's #1 movie house.