Special preview of Thanet-filmed Empire of Light movie to be held at the Palace Cinema in Broadstairs

Micheal Ward and Oliva Colman in Empire of Light Photo Roberto Fabiani

The Palace Cinema in Broadstairs will hold a special preview of movie Empire of Light – which was filmed in and around Margate between the end of February and May this year.

The story, written and directed by Sam Mendes, is a tale of people brought together by the magic of cinema. It stars Olivia Colman as Hilary, manager of the Empire, a once opulent seaside cinema in a once flourishing holiday town. But, in 1981, all three have fallen on troubled times.

Photo Steven Collis

Hilary loves the old place despite its crumbling state and, when it’s booked for a regional film premiere, she and the cinema staff – including dedicated projectionist Norman (Toby Jones), grumpy manager Mr Ellis (Colin Firth) and handsome new box office staff Stephen (Micheal Ward) – need to find the hope, energy and imagination to bring the Empire back to life. There’s a lot stacked against them pulling it off, not least the world outside the cinema’s doors in which recession, racism and unemployment are on the rise.

Photo Frank Leppard

Alongside the cast, the creative team includes cinematographer Roger Deakins, designer Mark Tildesley, editor Lee Smith and casting director Nina Gold. They bring together a vivid picture of 1980s Britain in the film which explores the wonder of cinemas and the joy of watching movies on the big screen together.

The production brought an estimated £4million into the Thanet economy through everything from accommodation and food costs to items and services bought locally.

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

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

The preview will be on Monday 2 January at 7.30pm and will include special film goodies for all.

Tickets £7 / £6 concessions / £3.50 14s and under (the film is not yet certified but is likely to be either PG or 12A)

Booking opens on Thursday 1 December – call01843 865726 or go to www.thepalacecinema.co.uk 

Leading up to Empire of Light, the Palace presents a spread of cinema joy throughout December, including:

  • LAUREL AND HARDY TRIPLE WHAMMY – The monthly Palace Sunday Silent with live piano accompaniment by Lillian Henley introduces classic silent comedies from the lads’ early days.
  • MATILDA THE MUSICAL – Revolting children sing and dance their way through this genius adaptation of the much-loved stage musical, plus take home pressies and official MATILDA merch prizes!
  • THE MENU – Ralph Fiennes stars as a super chef with dark intentions, alongside Anya Taylor Joy and Nicholas Hoult as two of the unlucky diners.
  • ARMAGEDDON TIME – Anthony Hopkins joins a starry cast in the heart-warming family story of a young boy growing up in the fast-changing times of ‘80s New York.
  • IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, CASABLANCA – A welcome return for two all-time classics on the big screen, plus a return for two more recent classics ELVIS and MOONAGE DAYDREAM.


      • There used to be one at Dreamland and I don’t understand why the current owners haven’t reopened it .
        The frontage advertising the films it was showing was just like how it’s been depicted in this new “ Empire of Light “ film

  1. I think this is an opportunity missed by the Carlton to have a preview with film goodies for the viewers ,but I’m pleased that our other small local cinema “ Palace “in Broadstairs has seized on this opportunity
    It would have been nice if the “ Empire of Light” production company incl film director Sam Mendes was going along for a Q&A .
    The Carlton has currently got a poster in its window for this film so I’m assuming they’ll be showing it on release later on in January 2023 .

  2. I agree with the first part of your email but think that the other part was a bit unnecessary .
    I’m assuming that as you recently and correctly praised the Carlton cinema that you will be going along to spend £3.50 for a budget price ticket to see this film there on its general release ?
    Btw . On reflection I’m not so surprised that the Palace cinema in Broadstairs are holding a preview of this film and giving out a “ film goodie bag “ as they have a good pattern of holding film industry related things like
    Q & A sessions in conjunction with a film , the most recent one was for the recent biopic film about Irish female singer Sinead O’Connor .

  3. Tickets for ‘Empire of Light’ at The Palace Cinema sold out in 45 minutes. The booking time was not given in the advertising, only the date, so customers were frantically trying to book from midnight. The booking system didn’t go live until 8am.

    • That’s really disappointing . I wasn’t expecting it to get “sold out” so soon .
      If nothing else it shows an appetite from people in Thanet ( but not Checksfield) who ARE interested in seeing this film that was made locally .

  4. Good News folks ! I’ve been told by Palace cinema that they weren’t expecting the tickets for the preview of this film to go so quickly …… BUT …..they’ve told me that the Empire cinema in Sandwich is also showing a preview of “ Empire of Light “ on the same night , 2 January 2023 , and that filmgoers will be given a souvenir popcorn holder with popcorn , plus some postcards associated to the film .
    The Empire cinema in Sandwich is a lovely ,friendly cinema and I’ve just booked my seats and the nice manager has just told me that he’s just set up online booking for this film .
    I hope this helps those people who missed out on Preview tickets at Palace cinema , Broadstairs .
    I think it was very decent of the Palace to share with me the info regarding a Preview at Sandwich

  5. It would if the Carlton was advertising it to take bookings ,which they currently aren’t !
    I imagine that will change .
    As I previously mentioned they have a poster in their window but nothing more than that about it
    Where as in the meantime the 2 small independent cinema’s ( Palace ; B,stairs and Empire ,Sandwich )
    are organised and ready to take bookings .
    Apparently Pearl & Dean are behind promoting this film incl the freebies , I thought that they also dealt with the Carlton too , so I’m more than surprised that the nearest and biggest cinema ( Carlton) to where this film was made aren’t advertising it .

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