Empire. Publicity flier for premiere screening1965. Offset on paper
8.5 x 11 inches.
Empire was filmed on the night of July 25-26 from 8:06 pm to 2:42 am. In the afternoon Andy Warhol, Gerard Malanga, Jonas Mekas, Marie Desert, and John Palmer entered the Time-Life Building at the corner of 50th street and Sixth Avenue with bags and boxes of camera equipment in tow and met Henry Romney, a Vice-president of the foundation, on the 44th floor where his office had an unobstructed view of the Empire State Building, 16 blocks to the southeast. After a couple hours to set up all the equipment (Warhol had thought it would be a sound film and used an Auricon 16mm single-system sound camera, which took longer to set up than his usual system). According to Gerard Malanga, "John Palmer, Jonas Mekas and I changed the reels for Andy. He barely touched the camera during the whole time it was being made. He wanted the machine to make the art for him." The film begins with a totally white screen and as the sun sets, the image of the Empire State Building emerges. The floodlights on its exterior come on, the building's lights flicker on and off for the next 6 1/ 2 hours, then the floodlights go off again in the next to the last reel so that the remainder of the film takes place in nearly total darkness. At the premiere screening Warhol stood at the back of the theater with Gerard Malanga and observed the audience rather than the film. Some people began walking out, booing, or throwing paper cups at the screen. No doubt a few copies of this handbill were crumpled and thrown.