Trailer released for Sam Mendes movie Empire of Light, shot in Margate

Micheal Ward and Olivia Colman Photo Roberto Fabiani

The trailer for movie Empire of Light – filmed in Margate between the end of February and end of May this year – has been released.

The film, a love story based in the 1980s, will have its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival on September 8-18.

The European premiere will be at the BFI London Film Festival from October 5-16 and the film is due to be released in the UK via Searchlight on January 13 2023.

It was previously revealed that the US release will be on December 9 this year.

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.

Sam Mendes and Roger Deakin Photo Louis McLaren

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

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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 filming with Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward Photo Roberto Fabiani

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.

Olivia Colman on set Photo Steven Collis

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.

Photo Louis McLaren

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.

Eddie Kemsley, CEO Dreamland Margate, said: ‘The teaser trailer is fantastic! We were all so thrilled that Sam Mendes, Neal Street Productions and Searchlight Pictures chose our great town and of course, our beautiful old cinema building at Dreamland, to play such a central role.  We can’t wait until we can see the film when it is released in the UK.

Empire of Light fireworks Photo Louis Mclaren

“It’s a testament to Margate and the wider county of Kent that we can attract such high calibre productions, which not only significantly contribute to the economy, but also help to highlight British gems such as Dreamland to a worldwide audience.”

Empire of Light

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