Empire of Light filming locations mapped

Empire of Light hit cinemas at the end of 2022 and is still available to watch in cinemas around the country. But viewers may be interested to know where the emotionally-charged movie was originally shot, as it is set in the real-life town of Margate in Kent, England. But is that where the film was actually shot? 

Where was Empire of Light filmed?

Empire of Light was shot on location in Margret, Kent, in the United Kingdom.

The movie’s events take place in the locations where they were actually set, making it one of the rare films fans will be able to see where it all went down in person.

Micheal Ward and Colin Firth are joined in the picture by Olivia Colman, who plays Hilary Small in the movie, a duty manager at the fictional cinema “Empire”. While the interior of the cinema was shot at a Margate cinema, the outside of the building was shot elsewhere.

The exterior shots of the fictional cinema were actually the outside of Dreamland, an amusement park at Margate that includes a Ferris wheel, arcades and more.

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Empire of Light also utilises the real-life Margate seafront, with some scenes at Nayland Shelter and Margate Main Sands.

Margate’s real railway station was also used, alongside a period-appropriate train that was used to complement the 1981 time setting.

Scenes involving Colman on a “day out” showed her in Margate’s Promenade, as well, with appearances from Broadstairs’ Lillyputt Mini Golf and the town’s bandstand.

Director Sam Mendes both wrote and directed Empire of Light, and previously opened up about how much he loved the quiet seaside town.

Mendes, who previously directed James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre, as well as 1917, said he “was drawn to this particular place because it offered so much opportunity in the scale of the visual landscape.”

The British director went on to say Margate “was where JMW Turner painted most of his famous paintings”. He added: “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.”

Empire of Light received mixed reviews, including two stars from The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey, who called the picture and “oddly impersonal love affair”.

Despite its mixed reaction, Colman was nominated for a Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama award at the 80th Golden Globes this year.

Empire of Light is in cinemas now.

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