Stars attend special screening of Empire of Light at Westgate’s Carlton Cinema

Photo Sue Fewings

Director Sam Mendes and stars Olivia Colman and Toby Jones are among the guests at today’s (January 8) special screening of Empire of Light at the Carlton Cinema in Westgate.

Delighted film-goers and onlookers included Westgate resident Wilfred Jenkins who met Olivia and Toby and took selfies with both actors.

Wilfred said Toby was “really nice” and he was “honoured” to meet him.

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, during troubled times in 1981. Toby Jones plays dedicated projectionist Norman.

Other stars in the film, which was shot in and around Margate last year, include grumpy manager Mr Ellis (Colin Firth) and handsome new box office staff Stephen (Micheal Ward).

The task is to bring the Empire back to life against a backdrop of recession, racism and unemployment.

(From L-R): Micheal Ward, Sam Mendes and Olivia Colman on set of the film EMPIRE OF LIGHT. Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh, Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Sam Mendes explained why he chose Margate as the location for Empire of Light. He said: “I was drawn to this particular place because it offered so much opportunity in the scale of the visual landscape.

Photo Dreamland

“It’s where JMW Turner painted most of his famous paintings – he went there because he said that the skies were the finest in Europe. It’s where TS Eliot wrote the Waste Land, sitting in a shelter just outside of the cinema looking out over the beach and the grey sea that sits beyond.

“There’s a breadth about the place, which gives it poetry and a cinematic scope.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Roger Deakins’ has been nominated for his work on the film for a Critics Choice Awards for ‘Best Cinematography’ and Olivia Colman’s performance has landed her a Golden Globes nomination for Best Actress.

Photo Frank Leppard

Empire of Light, which also had an early screening at the Palace Cinema in Broadstairs on January 2, goes on UK public release tomorrow (January 9).

Photo Roberto Fabiani

Red carpets out for Empire of Light special screening at Carlton Cinema and reception at Dreamland


  1. These three well know people, Olivia Colman, Toby Jones and Sam Mendes always come across as being sincere and not ‘above themselves’ and the fact that they took the trouble to attend the showing of their film at the Westgate Carlton proves it. They have hectic and incredibly busy lives and many stars in their place would have expected lesser known actors in the film to represent them at the Carlton. Thank you Olivia, Toby and Sam for being such special people. You do the industry proud.

    • Didn’t you know that Margate is hot property? World renowned art centre that has made the area incredibly prosperous, the greatest cinema/entertainment/conference complex in the world-complete with its own BLM cultural hub & Cliftonville is one of the ten coolest places on earth.

      They should be on their knees thanking their lucky stars that Margate has invited them.

    • Must have been an hourly occurrence on the set of Broadchurch for a shout of new bucket for Ms Coleman to go up.

    • Checksfield , for someone who professes to not be interested in this film or want to see it , you sure do have a lot to say about it !
      It reminds me of that expression “ Empty vessels make most noise ! “
      I thought that you were too busy to concern yourself with Empire of Light , and yet you’ve found plenty of time again today to leave your negative comments
      Instead why not give positive praise and be happy that there was a film Premiere for “ Empire of Light” today at the local Carlton cinema in Westgate on Sea , attended by Top film Director Sam Mendes , and leading cast members Olivia Colman , Toby Jones
      How good was that ! The film producers and cast gave something back to the people in this area .
      As for the jibe from another person that the film is WOKE
      That’s just the cheap jibe I expected on this platform from someone who hasn’t seen the film
      I’ve seen the preview and this film most certainly isn’t WOKE ..
      If you haven’t seen it yet , then you are in for a treat and Margate and Broadstairs look good on the big screen

      • Barry/Rockstar (or Chris, as your real name is), I’ve commented ALMOST as much as you do whenever I’ve released books that you “have no interest in”.

        And I’ve never heard of Sam Mendes. But I’M not a film nerd.

        • The big difference is that I’m not shamelessly self promoting myself at ANY opportunity like you with your part time written books but have shown a healthy interest in a Hollywood film being made locally and shared a preview of this film for people ( not nerds) interested in seeing it
          I’ve even tried to reach out to you to engage you seeing the film with the way 1980/81 music is reflected in this film as I thought the music would interest you but why do I bother with you when you are just unpleasant .

          • I don’t need to watch a 2022 movie to be reminded of the music of the music of 40+ years earlier.

            I saw and met The Specials in 2009, when the 6-part reunion line-up (no Jerry Dammers) came to the theatre where I worked as a doorman. The band mostly came and left separately, and it was clear that there were still bad feelings amongst some of them, with only Horace Panter & John Bradbury hanging out together. A fine show though, despite the non-inclusion of ‘Ghost Town’ (Horace complained afterwards that if Terry would cut down on his smoking then he’d be able to sing it every night!). Neville Staple was the friendliest to staff, but Terry Hall did shake my hand as he left, and seemed to appreciate me thanking him. R.I.P.

        • “And I’ve never heard of Sam Mendes.”

          You seem to be sorely mistaken that your subjective, ignorance based opinion holds more weight than it actually does.

          • It holds weight to me, as his name doesn’t impress me. I’ve googled him, and his big films were ‘American Beauty’ (effectively banned these days as it features the acting equivalent of Gary Glitter) and ‘Skyfall’ (starring undoubedly the most mis-cast James Bond in it’s entire 60 year run).

        • Peter Checksfield you are everything wrong with social media. Criticising people who don’t have the same interests as you. Labelling as nerds because they actually know about the subject they are talking about. And above all passing judgement on things you haven’t seen, done by people who I am pretty sure have more talent than you. Why? Why waste yours and others time? Go and find something to post on that interests you, not insulting people who post opinions that are relevant to the subject matter. Or are you one of these people that thinks they know everything?

  2. People need to stop feeding the troll on these pages. He trots out the same tired boring act. Just ignore him.

    Great to see an event and film like this locally can only be a good thing for local business.

  3. It was great that the Carlton hosted the premier and did the town proud. Not least because the ticket price was so reasonable.
    It’s just a bitter irony that after nearly 2 million pounds spent on the Dreamland cinema refurbishment it takes a film company to create a a faux film set to remind everyone what the interior of the cinema was like.

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