‘Cinema’ film set in Margate unveiled for Sam Mendes ‘Lumiere’ movie

The cinema set of Sam Mendes movie Lumiere Photo John Horton

The set for the Sam Mendes movie being filmed in Margate this Spring is being uncovered.

The site known as ‘Godden’s Gap’ has been transformed with the temporary build of an Art Deco style cinema for love story Lumiere ( Empire of Light).

The film, which is the first solo screenplay written by Mendes, will be set in and around a beautiful old cinema 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, as well as Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie and Crystal Clarke.

Photo John Horton

The 20,000ft set contains a replica of Dreamland’s old cinema, including the  staircase and chandeliers.

The neon Dreamland sign on the fin of the Grade II* listed cinema is also being removed temporarily and replaced with Empire Cinema signs.

The set and alterations will be in place until June.

Photo John Horton

There have also been lamps and festoon lights fitted along the seafront and there will be a road closure of Marine Terrace for filming on Friday, March 4 from 9.30pm until 4am on March 5.

Photo John Horton

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 will direct and produce the new film with Pippa Harris of Neal Street.

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Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who won an Oscar for best cinematography at the Academy Awards for his work on 1917, is also involved.

Photo John Cripps

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. I have to ask… if it is set in the 1980s, then why on earth couldn’t the circa 1980s neon sign stay, and why couldn’t they use the empty yet restored Dreamland cinema? It would be different if it was set in the 1950s.

    • 2 points here, Peter.

      1. The cinema in the film is to called the Empire, so hardly appropriate to use Dreamland signage.

      2. Unless you know something I’m not aware of, although the foyer and staircase inside the cinema was refurbished more than five years ago now, the inside has not as yet been returned to a cinema format but remains in its last incarnation.. a bingo hall. Happy to be corrected if this isn’t the case. If it has been refurbished then there would be no need to reproduce it within the new ‘sound stage’.

      Furthermore, there is no mention here of the fact that there is a duplicate frontage being built on the old downstairs café in the Dreamland cinema building itself. I wonder why?

      • That gap isn’t huge so I suspect it is only the foyer they have created. If the Dreamland foyer has been refurbished, why not use it?

      • I was under the impression that the Dreamland cinema had been refurbished at great expense by TDC before it was sold off. Didn’t the organ get done up too? If not then where did that money go?

        • Rumour has it , the inside of the dreamland cinema has been comprehensively trashed, vast majority of its brass and other metals stolen , considerable water damage elsewhere ( though there is no longer any additional water ingress).
          Requests by various architectural and historic groups for access to record the cinemas design etc have all been ignored.

    • Hahaha, Peter C. … bless you but the clue’s in the name of the film “Empire of Light”, not “Dreamland of Light”!

  2. The gang of posters with the “hilarious” names…. bet you guys are “crazy” at parties…

    Bart Simpson would be proud of these “clever” names. He is of course a child and a made up one at that.

  3. My brother is a professional extra he has been in hundreds of films and TV. In some fins he has had to shave off his beard so the make- up department can ——put a false beard on him. He is on the list for this one.

  4. It is looking amazing. Just drove past . The festoon lights along the seafront will be incredible. The deco chandelier inside is beautiful ….Do they have to take it all away when it’s finished ?

    • Just shows you what could be done in Margate if you have a little imagination. It’s a shame we have a council that are happy in letting everything go derelict until they can get the bulldozers out and finish the job. Just one week and we have have Godden’s Gap filled in with some lovely architecture and festoons of lights along the seafront. If TDC have any sense at all they should allow this improvement to be left behind when they are finished but I won’t hold my breath !

      • Trouble is though, the set will have been designed by those with huge imaginations and the budget for its comstruction will not be a trivial sum for what is a very temporary structure.

      • Yep, but much of that will be down to TDC’s building control department over the years being unwilling to do their job properly. But the council will be more than happy to collect council tax on a flat that just seems to materialise from nowhere.

    • EgonSpengler – Isn’t that a huge improvement on Godden’s Gap then or do people like the derelict look better ?

  5. All going down memory lane for many cinema goers in Dreamland cinemas history good publicity for the town as for the Compton organ TDC when they looked after it kept it warm so no moisture got any where don’t know now as for graffiti it probably will happen it seems graffiti artists seem to think it’s ok to put it all over the town on people’s property without permission from the owner this is supposed to be illegal doing this they do this in broad daylight yet never challenged by the police.Art should stay in galleries not for free on somebody’s property.

  6. Shame it’s not a brick built structure, and not just temporary, it’s the best looking building on the seafront, until the graffiti appears.

    I wonder if they now have overnight security, to keep the so-called artists away.

    The lights on the opposite side of the road, are much better than anything TDC ever supplies. A few lessons to be learned here.

  7. Your article puts the amazing Colin Firth down list of actors. He should have equal billing with the equally amazing Olivia Coleman. Btw, I have a spare room if Mr Firth wants it, and I
    sleep walk lol x

  8. It’s a shame the film company are prioritising their own budget and time restraints over that of local small businesses. We’ve been given 3 days notice and they expect us to now pay workmen to sit around doing nothing whilst they film outside the shop. There’s absolutely no understanding or consideration that we will loose money so that they can make money.

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