The Empire State Building is a star! Warhol declared while filming his cinematic portrait of the New York skyscraper, which he described as an eight-hour hard on. Empire was shot in one night, in a single continuous take with a static camera looking out from a fortieth-floor office in the Time-Life building. According to his assistant Gerard Malanga, Warhol barely touched the camera during the whole time it was being made. He wanted the machine to make the art for him.
At the film’s premiere, the audience at first booed and jeered, a reaction that surprised Warhol. Gee, you think they don’t like it? he asked. But when, more than five hours in, the building’s floodlights were switched off for the night, they suddenly broke into delighted applause.