Filming and road closures for Empire of Light movie head into final month

Olivia Colman on set Photo Roberto Fabiani

Photos by Roberto Fabiani

The Sam Mendes production starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward and Colin Firth has been shot on location around the town since the end of February.

The 1980s-set love story also stars Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie and Crystal Clarke.

Sites used include Margate’s main seafront road, the Old Town, Cliftonville, Darcy’s Café and also the Manston airport site.

Dreamland’s neon sign on the fin of the Grade II* listed cinema has been replaced with Empire Cinema signs and the 20,000ft set at Godden’s Gap contains a replica of Dreamland’s old cinema, including the staircase and chandeliers, with a ticket booth outside.

The production has included firework displays, a Chariots of Fire film ‘premiere,’ vintage cars, fake snow and rain and a temporary makeover to Dreamland Cinema to rename it the Empire.

Director 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 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.

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The filming has meant road closures which has caused some queueing and congestion.

April closures remaining

Wednesday 27th AprilMarine TerraceFrom 0930 – 1430
Thursday 28th AprilMarine TerraceFrom 0930 – 1430
Friday 29th AprilMarine TerraceFrom 0930 – 1430

The road closures scheduled for May are:

05-MayCLIFF TERRACE11:00 -17:00
 Closure Athelstan11:00-17:00
06-MayCLOSURE KING STREET 08:00 – 02:30  
 Marine Terrace12-17:30
 THE PARADE and Fort Road13:00-00.00
09-MayClosure  Fort Paragon08:00 – 19:00
10-MayVictoria Parade07:00-20:00
16-MayClosure on MARINE DRIVE07:00-16:00
  on MARINE TERRACE – Roundabout to Roundabout07:00-21:00
 19:30 – 00:00
17th MayCLOSURE on MARINE TERRACE09:30 – 14:30 
 Marine Terrace07:00-20:00
 MARINE DRIVE07:00-20:00
18th MayCLOSURE on MARINE TERRACE / Station Roundabout09:30 – 14:30
  Marine Terrace/ Station RB08:00-22:00
19th mayCLOSURE on MARINE TERRACE 09:30 – 14:30
  Marine Terrace08:00-20:00
20th MayClosure Marine Terrace09:30 – 14:30
  Marine Terrace10:00-01:00
23rd – 27th MayClosure MARINE TERRACE09:30 – 14:30
 Marine Terrace07:00-20:00


    • They were in the last road closure list I did
      Wednesday 27th April Marine Terrace From 0930 – 1430
      Thursday 28th April Marine Terrace From 0930 – 1430
      Friday 29th April Marine Terrace From 0930 – 1430

  1. Is f****** film is pissing up everybody’s lives getting to work coming home from work hospital appointments doctors appointments they need to go

  2. In addition to the replies above, visitors to Margate are seeing corrugated iron and peeling posters around buildings, making Margate seafront look even shabbier than usual (something I didn’t think was possible!). Those who claim that this movie is going to attract people to the area are clearly deluded.

    • I think you’re deluded thinking that Margate didn’t have faded music posters for concerts in the period this film is set in .I.e 1980/81 .
      I was living here then ( maybe unlike you Pete ? ) and don’t remember Margate through rose tinted glasses
      As for people not coming to the area because of the film ?
      Don’t you think yesterdays filming in Westgate with Phil Spencer / Location,Location,Location and the film might just get peoples interest in checking out Margate and Westgate ?

      • Of course they did (and in Peckham/Old Kent Road too, where I lived in the early 80s!). My point is, this isn’t showing Margate in a great light. So it is hardly going to make more people want to visit.

        ‘Location, Location, Location’, in a nice area of Thanet, is a completely different story… and it didn’t even cause months of traffic diversions!

      • Indeed and no doubt the film will be successful so people will visit in the future because of the movie.

  3. How much compensation is thanet getting for this inconvenience ?

    As for making margate look more shabby perhaps margate was choosen to keep cost down

  4. usual naysayers here!!!–the town is benefitting not least from the hundreds of people working on the film who are staying here for at least 3 months and spending money in the area and the rentals paid. Add to that the money being paid to local businesses to use their premises– sure the town looks bad with the corrugated shops–but hardly a bed of roses before that either. There are at least 150 Thanet locals getting paid as extras, plus hundred’s from around, mainly, E Kent working as extras. Its bringing money into the town–take it as a bonus. Like any big film, it will do the town good once it been distributed.

    • Well said John! Absolutely spot on. The road closures have undoubtedly caused hassle and problems but I feel the benefits you list far outweigh the negatives. Plus I think it’s all rather exciting- perhaps I’m just easily pleased!

    • ah yes–what would they all do with that rage !! I can understand the problems with traffic–but same happens in the summer on those lovely hot days when its packed–yet we don’t complain about the sun being out!!

        • Point was…the sun brings more people, they head for the beaches, the roads get blocked….I’m sure you can work the similarity out from there

  5. It’s just personal taste but I quite like the corrugated iron frontage, peeling posters & all. But don’t see how increased trade to Airbnbs helps anyone but the owners. Airbnb is a menace – very few service jobs associated with this sector and it always means less properties available to buy or long-term let. And yes, some additional trade going to shops and cafes but probably not much more than there would be anyway when the sun comes out.
    This isn’t a sustainable source of income for the town – more a case of Town to Rent and the residents be damned.

    • Point was…the sun brings more people, they head for the beaches, the roads get blocked….I’m sure you can work the similarity out from there

    • Feb, March, April not exactly peak tourist time. Several hundred well paid people staying in town sounds good to me

        • How long have they been making this film and there hasn’t been any problems with the emergency services ,so why question it now ?
          It’s quite obvious Peter with your views that you’re negative towards this film and the recent Louis Wain film with Benedict Cumberbatch depicting Westgate .
          Why ? You seem to pre judge films without seeing them

  6. Maybe the residents of Margate should be given free tickets to see the film as a way of compensation for our inconvenience

    • I think that’s a nice idea but not very practical or realistic .
      That been said , I think some kind of premiere at say Carlton cinema Westgate with a few of the cast would be nice but I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen.

  7. The profoundly simple option is that you just drive a slightly different way.. they stop traffic for a few minutes at a time.. they’re not slashing your tyres!
    Grow up

    • Like to see you drive from Westbrook to Cecil Square a “slightly” different way. Probably at least 3 times the distance.

      I could understand the delays/congestion if it was anything important like road improvements or demolition, but it’s just a bl**dy movie, that will be of zero interest to a great many people.

  8. Kathy – thank you for the road closure info. It is very useful, especially as there are some additional dates from the original list I had noted.

  9. People coming into town, people staying in town, eating, drinking and shopping in town helps the hospitality and retail sector recover after a terrible couple of years. So this will enable shops, restaurants and bars to be able to pay their business rates to TDC, hence more money should be available for TDC to use for social care and local communities. Restaurants, bars and shops employ mostly local people and lots of youngsters. We need to look at the bigger picture, no pun intended. I also drive locally for a living.
    You can never please everyone , there’s a saying – if you gave everyone a free tenner, some would moan it wasn’t a twenty.

  10. Great nees for margate. Lets hope lots more film companies use the town. If you live here caused very little disruption to the town lots of alternative options

  11. For heavens sake, more closures in may. Just a little common sense. Suspend parking on college road, by coffin corner, and tivoli road. Have a technician at Victoria traffic lights to manually change lights. I have sat in this traffic chaos for 2 hours each day.

  12. Can I ask are the road closures in bold and the non bold ones with the stop go board, so slow moving? I am worried about all of the children with exams trying to get yo school. The main week is peak GCSE/A-level season and the kids are likely to struggle to get through to school on time.

  13. Exactly WHO is responsible for making a key decision that would cause so much misery gridlock and polution from idling cars, not to mention the insane impact on emergency services. Just hope that none of the glass half full people are not in need of immediate critical care during these periods. After taking more than two hours to get from Broadstairs to Margate, I have decided today that a trip to my preferred wood yard behind Dreamland is definitely out of the question after my last nightmare. This is just one business and who is covering that loss?. Who is getting paid for saying yes to this and how much is the council/town council getting for the privilege.
    Who in their right mind would think that a poxy ticket to a premier would compensate for this.

    • If you cant get to a shop the shòps cant get to you. I did say before all this that someone should come up with a one way system. Oh for the day when idiots don’t run the councils.And idiots like MARVA stop making stupid comments and open their eyes to see the real mess Thanet is in. Lowlifes, litter, filthy streets and over population.

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