fbpx

The Empire of Light cinema

The Empire of Light cinema

Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light is centred on a dilapidated multi screen cinema and explores the power of human connection during turbulent times. Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, the film stars Olivia Colman as the cinema’s duty manager Hilary, alongside Micheal Ward, Toby Jones, and Colin Firth.

empire of light cinema
Margate’s Dreamland cinema transformed for Empire of Light

The cinema used for the Empire is Margate’s Dreamland Cinema. Originally built on the the site of the 900-seat Dreamland Variety Theatre of 1923, it was later re-named Dreamland Cinema and it sat next to the Dreamland Amusement Park on the sea front of Marine Terrace.

A new Dreamland Super Cinema opened on 22nd March 1935 designed by architect’s Julian Rudolph Leathart & W.F. Granger. The grand frontage of the cinema was the first of its kind in Britain, with a large fin tower which makes the building highly visible along Margate’s shore line. A large café (with windows providing a view out to sea), several bars and a ballroom were also part of the project.

It’s been opened and closed in various reincarnations over the decades but when Empire of Light‘s production team chose it as the filming location, it had been sitting empty for some time.

Empire of Light's cinema

It was transformed to become Empire of Light‘s art deco exterior and some of the interiors feature in the film too: The auditorium’s green bingo hall, the ballroom was given a refurb and the art deco ladies’ bathrooms were rebuilt.

It was transformed to become Empire of Light's art deco exterior and some of the interiors feature in the film too: The auditorium's green bingo hall, the ballroom was given a refurb and the art deco ladies’ bathrooms were rebuilt.
Empire of Light

Production Designer Mark Tildesley says “It’s an analogy with the story – the lead characters are weathered and broken people, and they need care and healing and mending.”

Empire of Light's cinema
Olivia Colman in Empire of Light

Take a closer look at the carpet in the cinema lobby. Is it a nod to our beloved Hicks Hexagon carpet as seen in the Overlook Hotel in The Shining?Empire of Light's cinema

Let us know what you think!

kubricks-carpet-the-shining-hexagonal-david-hicks
Danny playing on Hicks Hexagon carpet in The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel

Officially licensed Hicks Hexagon ‘The Shining’ high quality 1 ply wool rugs, runners and carpet are available for your own home, office or commercial space from our store. We have The Shining rugs and runner in standard sizes or we are happy to custom make rugs or wall-to-wall carpet to your own specifications.

empire-of-light-cesca-chair-film-and-furniture
Olivia Colman as Hilary in Empire of Light

In Hilary’s dining room we also spotted a set of Cesca chairs.

Designed in 1928, Marcel Breuer’s Cesca chair married traditional craftsmanship with industrial methods and materials to help make tubular steel furniture an international sensation and a modern institution. The cantilevered form exploits the possibilities unique to the material and gives the chair added flexibility and comfort.

The Modernist Cesca chair is available with and without arms, with hand-woven cane inserts and in hardwood beech or ebonized beech frames.

It was transformed to become Empire of Light's art deco exterior and some of the interiors feature in the film too: The auditorium's green bingo hall, the ballroom was given a refurb and the art deco ladies’ bathrooms were rebuilt.
Empire of Light

Watch the Empire of Light trailer below:


This feature is FREE to Classic members.

To access in-depth features, video interviews, tickets to F&F events, giveaway draws, invitations to pre-release film screenings, major exhibitions and more, become a Front Row or Backstage member today!

Join our newsletter

Receive film and furniture inspiration
direct to your inbox

Our Privacy Policy

Want to become a member? View our membership options.

Become a Member

Classic

FREE

  • Access our archive of features
  • Access our carefully curated marketplace (showing you where to find the items you see in film and TV)
  • Newsletter - Receive film and furniture inspiration directly to your inbox
Subscribe >

Want more?

Front Row

From £50/year

Backstage

From £250/year