Searchlight Pictures has made moves to step out of the shadows and into the light to reveal the release date for the Sam Mendes helmed feature, Empire of Light. The drama will officially hit theaters on December 9, bringing us a warm beam of entertainment during the darkest month of the year. The film, which began rolling cameras back in February, signed on an all star cast which will feature the award-winning talents of performers including Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Micheal Ward (Blue Story), and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech). The film’s ensemble will be made up of Tom Brooke, Hannah Onslow, Toby Jones, Crystal Clarke, and Tanya Moodie.
While much of the plot is being kept under wraps, at this time we know that Empire of Light will take place in the early 1980s. Audiences will set sail for an English seaside town that’s home to a beautiful, historic cinema from days gone by. Inside the walls of the classic piece of architecture, relationships will be formed and romance will blossom as the love of film unites its main characters. To further set the stage on what you can expect, filming took place along the scenic Kent coastline during the late winter and early spring. From this, we can surmise that there will be gorgeous shots of bluffs towering out of the sea and a nice amount of overcast rainy days while spring begins to bring the sun.
Empire of Light will mark Mendes’ return to filmmaking following the award crushing 2019 war drama, 1917. The WWI centered film snagged a staggering 10 nominations at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony, and took home the titles of Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. No stranger to the awards circuit, Mendes’ other productions including American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road, Skyfall, and Spectre have all been celebrated by the critics of Hollywood.
For his newest project, Mendes brought on his longtime collaborator and award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (1917, Skyfall). With several awards already under their belts from prior team-ups, the two are certainly eying more where that came from with the release of Empire of Light. For Mendes, the feature will serve as his first time penning a screenplay on his own, having previously written with partners. He and Pippa Harris will produce under their Neal Street Productions banner.
With a release date now set, we can absolutely expect to hear and see more about Empire of Light in the upcoming weeks and months. As always, stay tuned to Collider for more information as it becomes available.