Filming of latest Sam Mendes movie, starring Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, to take place at Dreamland

Director Sam Mendes will be filming in Thanet Photo Keith Morris / Hay Ffotos / Alamy Stock Photo

A 20,000 sq ft sound stage enclosure is to be installed at Dreamland for filming of the latest project by director Sam Mendes early next year.

An application for the temporary build, on the site known locally as ‘Godden’s Gap, which has planning approval for Margate Estate’s proposed 124-bed seafront hotel, has been lodged with Thanet council.

The stage and production site will be used by the director and screenplay writer for love story Empire of Light. The film will be set in and around a beautiful old cinema – Dreamland’s Grade II* listed venue-  on the South coast of England in the 1980s. It will star award-winning The Crown actress Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, of Top Boy fame.

The listed Dreamland Cinema Image courtesy of The John Hutchinson Collection, Campbell Reith Collection, RIBA archive

Mr Mendes is known for works including  James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre and the war film 1917 as well as numerous West End stage shows. He has written Empire of Light, making it his first original solo screenplay. He will also direct and produce with Pippa Harris of Neal Street. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who won an Oscar for best cinematography at the Academy Awards for his work on 1917, is also involved.

Photo John Horton

The stage/film production building will be an arched frame covered in PVC and ply and will be sound attenuated inside. Documents for the project by Serious International say: “The demountable stage construction will form part of the Dreamland complex and will build on what is already a hub for media activity. The stage can be considered as a large opportunity to drive economic growth in Margate, addressing the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The stage/production space will be built on the Dreamland ‘hotel’ site

The stage/production space will be useable from January and removed by June 1, 2022.

Margate Estates Ltd has also begun preliminary works on the hotel at the site including preparing the ground and surveying. Work will continue after the temporary film site has been removed.

The filming industry is a valuable source of income for Thanet. In 2020/21 Thanet council estimates the value was in excess of £770,000.


  1. The iconic listed cinema unfortunately is still only a shell with refurbishment and renovation of the interior never undertaken.
    Rather ironically and sadly despite external renovation works having been mostly completed the building is again subject to creeping vandalism and tagging to the front and sides which Dreamland seem oblivious despite this being drawn to their attention on numerous occasions over the past year. More and more of the neon lights and displays on the fins are failing, again Dreamland does nothing to remedy this problem . So much for Margate Estates ( Dreamland ) being noble custodians of this local Heritage asset. So let’s hope this filming will bounce the above into some undertaking this maintenance work on the cinema. No one would dispute the value of such a film venture here in Margate but shouldn’t Margate estates just get on with building the hotel that was supposed to be so key to the development of Dreamland s offer .
    Have any of our councillors taken the issue of the external maintenance of the cinema with Dreamland ,Is there no such thing as civic pride anymore ?

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