Dreamland to hold Empire of Light film set tour

Empire of Light inside Dreamland Cinema Photo Louis McLaren

Dreamland is inviting people to join a walk through some of the sets used for the Empire of Light movie starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth and Toby Jones.

Shooting for the film took place in and around Margate – including at the Manston airport site- between March and end of May 2022 and is credited with boosting the local economy by some £4million.

Photo Frank Leppard

Dreamland’s fin displayed  the Empire branding during the filming which also used parts of the old cinema. A cinema set was also built at ‘Godden’s Gap.’

Production was facilitated by Kent Film Office. On the KFO website it says: “After seeing the art-deco Dreamland cinema, director Sam Mendes chose Margate as the film’s lead location, the Empire Cinema. A sound stage was erected next door to provide additional cinema interiors facing the beach. The amusement park and roller disco also make an appearance.”

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

Empire of Light is an 80s-set love story with the relationship between Hilary (Olivia Colman) and Stephen (Micheal Ward)  centre stage. The film also explores racism and poor mental health.

On Saturday 13th April the free walk through of part of the film sets will take place at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30 pm. Visits will be limited to a maximum of 30 people,

The walk will take in the  ‘abandoned ballroom’ and set of the cinema auditorium plus a the Roller Disco and amusements that also featured in the film.

Photo Roy Foord

To register for your place, email [email protected] before 4:30pm on Friday 12th April with your name, number of people (max 5 per booking) and preferred time.

Some of the sets are in the Dreamland Cinema building which is listed and has been unoccupied for many years – it pre-dates current accessibility legislation and has no appropriate infrastructure for those with accessibility requirements. The event is not suitable for children under 14yrs + old.

7 Comments

  1. IT WOULD BETTER-STILL GETTING DREAMLAND CINEMA OPENED UP AGAIN-ALL NICELY DONE UP INSIDE AND OUTSIDE-THE EMPIRE OFF LIGHT MUST HAVE MADE A LOT MONEY SO NO EXCUSE THANET COUNCIL U THE MONEY GET THE CINEMAS OPENED AGAIN.

    • There’s only one problem with that. It’s not owned by the council. And in fact the owner just turned down public funding to renovate the site.

    • Sorry I have to say this. We have Vue and the Carlton surely that’s enough cinema screens.
      Besides which TDC has no jurisdiction over Dreamland and Vue. Let them concentrate on the Winter Gardens. However, the whole point of the above article is to let us know Dreamland is giving something back to the people of Thanet. Thank you Dreamland.

  2. It seems 90 people from the whole of Thanet will benefit from the largesse of Dreamland for this activity. That speaks for itself.

  3. I predict the cinema complex will not reopen within five years ,and Goddens gap the same .What ever happened to the insurance money from that fire,surely the insurance company pays out for rebuild ,not for the money to be banked in a secret account somewhere

    • Too little too late.

      The reinstatement of the late Mr Godden’s amusement arcade never materialised. One can only speculate what may have happened to the insurance pay-out.

      It is now five years since planning consent for the proposed hotel was granted so that has fallen by the wayside.

      £1.8m was spent renovating the former Sunshine Cafe with new windows and roof repairs. That was eight years ago and yet the building still sits empty and unused.

      Has the time now come to give the whole lot over to much needed housing development ? I understand that when all the Marine Terrace properties were originally built, they were all houses not amusement arcades, etc.

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