December release date at US theatres for Empire of Light movie shot in Margate

Empire of Light filming with Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward Photo Roberto Fabiani

The United States release date for Sam Mendes movie Empire of Light, which was shot in Margate between the end of February and end of May this year – has been confirmed as December 9.

The Empire of Light teams started to arrive in Margate in November last year and the production contributed some £4million to the Thanet economy through everything from accommodation and food costs to items and services bought locally.

Photo Louis McLaren

Production teams also bought locally, including props from vintage and second-hand shops plus food used for scenes in the film.

Many residents responded to the call for movie extras and 1300 people of all ages were cast as background artists throughout the shoot.

Empire of Light stars Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward and Colin Firth. The 1980s-set love story also stars Toby Jones, Tom Brooke, Hannah Onslow, Tanya Moodie and Crystal Clarke.

Locations used included Margate’s main seafront road, the beach, the Old Town, Cliftonville, and Darcy’s Café.

Photo Louis McLaren

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

‘Mods’ and scooters on Margate seafront Photo Frank Leppard

The Searchlight Pictures production included firework displays, a Chariots of Fire film ‘premiere,’ vintage cars and fake snow and rain as well as a mass scene with mods and skinheads.

Photo Frank Leppard

The production team also installed festoon lights along the seafront and into the Old Town. In response to public requests Neal Street Productions made a formal offer to gift the lights to the town of Margate, once they reached the end of filming.

Photo Roy Foord

However, Thanet council said issues with the lights mean they could not stay in place. Margate Charter Trustees have retained some of the lighting equipment.


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