Cult Theatre Postcards: Series One, Card Number 2 – Empire Theatre


This historic Cult Theatre Grindhouse Postcard features an extremely rare photo of the Empire Theatre. The Empire Theatre was located at 34 West 42nd Street in New York City.

When the photo was taken, the Empire Theatre was screening “First New York Showings” of the Billy Chong kung fu cult classics A Fistful of Talons and Kung Fu Zombie.

The Empire Theatre was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb and opened in 1912 as the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre. The theater was named after Julian Eltinge, the top female impersonator of the era in the U.S. The Eltinge hosted legitimate theater and burlesque for decades, before being converted into a movie theater in 1942 and its name changed to Laffmovie and later the Empire. The theater finally closed in the mid-1980s, but not before it became famous for kung fu and blaxploitation films.

Following the 42nd Street “renaissance,” AMC decided to make the entire former Empire Theatre the lobby of its new new flagship 25-screen megaplex. The lobby of the luxurious, five-level theater has been built inside the shell of the old Empire Theater. In order to build the massive multi-screen complex, designed by the architecural firm Beyer Blinder Belle, the Empire was lifted up and moved down the street to its present location. Once that massive job was completed, a new 25 screen theater was built around it.

The historic facade has been left largely intact, but with a new marquee. Just above the box office is a mural painted by French artist Arthur Brounet, which was restored by Harriet Irgang, the director of Rustin Levenson Art Conservation.

All Cult Theatre Postcards feature vintage and grindhouse movie theaters within the United States. The series includes cinemas in major urban centers such as Downtown Los Angeles, New York’s Times Square – then known as “The Deuce,” Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore and many, many more famous cities. The movie theatres are screening cult classics, B-movies, martial arts films, horror films and more.

The time was the 1980’s and movie theaters were attempting to reinvent themselves, with smaller budgets and new audiences. Many independently owned theaters resorted to low-cost B-movies and Asian movie imports, especially kung fu films such as Kung Fu Zombie and A Fistful of Talons.

Other movie theaters in the Cult Theatres Postcard collection include The Loew’s Theater, Rialto Theater, Anco Theater, Malco Theater, Paramount Theater, Fox Nickelodeon Theater, Luna Theater, Woods Theater, Cameo Theater, Cinema 35 Theater, Washington Theater, Capri Theater, Publix Theater, The Pussycat Theater, Center Theater, McVickers Theater, The Castle Theater, El Morro Theater, Cine 42 Theater, Stadium Theater, Empire Theater, Majestic Theater, Brauntex Theater, RKO Jefferson Theater, Times Square Theater, Liberty Theater, Roxy Theater, Embassy Theater, Strand Theater, Uptown Theater, State-Lake Theater, Los Angeles Theater, Tower Theater, Victoria Theater, Adams Theater, Chicago Theater, Boulevard Theater, New Isis Theater, Howard Theater, Academy Theater, Sam Eric Theater, Sameric Theater and more.

This vintage-style movie theater postcard item has been filed under theaters, theatres, grindhouse, movie theaters, vintage, grind house, cinemas, entertainment, collectibles, b movies, grindhouse theaters, cult cinemas, cult classics, martial arts films, movies, horror films, the deuce, hollywood, 42nd street.

These extremely rare movie theater images are officially licensed and scanned directly from the negatives or the best quality photo image available.

See full set of Cult Theatre photos at