Release Date, Trailer, Cast, and Everything We Know So Far


What is cinema if not “an illusion of life, so as not to see the darkness”? Of course, there is much more to the definition of this beautiful art that we invented nearly 200 years ago. But this quote from Empire of Light summarizes a bit how we have long perceived cinema. The director’s romantic drama Sam Mendesis an ode to this art, drawing parallels between the magic of cinema and human relationships.

Featuring Oscar-winning actors Olivia Colman and Colin Firth, Empire of Light follows characters working in a theater in an English coastal town and tells a touching story about love, life and art. Set in the 1980s, a critical socio-cultural period in Britain’s modern history, the film also explores powerful topics like racism and exploitation. From an ensemble cast to impressive cinematography, Empire of Light looks like a glowing streak of light despite the darkness of its theme.


Recently screened at Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, Empire of Light was praised for his direction and performance. Slated for release in December, the film arrives just in time for the holiday season. So, check out our comprehensive guide below and find out everything we know so far about Empire of Light including plot, trailer, release date, cast and characters of the romantic period drama.

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What is the release date of Empire of Light?

Empire of Light is set to be released in theaters across the US on Friday, December 9, 2022. In the UK, the film will be released on January 13, 2023. The film had its world premiere at the 49th Telluride Film Festival, followed by a special screening at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival, both in September 2022.

When was the last time you walked into one of those traditional movie theaters, with red velvet seats and a plush marquee, framed in bright, twinkling lights? The official trailer for Empire of Light gives you a glimpse of those days.

The clip opens with Toby Jones‘ voiceover about what cinema does to audiences and how a film is shown, and moves through the stages, evoking the grandeur of cinema and the experience of a classic theater. The trailer is essentially a balance between light and dark, which is also what dominates the theme of the film, both visually and figuratively. The trailer also introduces key characters, especially those played by Colman and Michael Ward, emphasizing their friendship. At first glance, the cast’s performances seem remarkable, against the backdrop of incredible cinematography and classic ’80s motifs.

Who’s in the Empire of Light cast?

Empire of Light boasts an incredible cast list with award-winning names like Olivia Colman and Colin Firth headlining. Joining them are popular actors like Toby Jones, Micheal Ward, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslowand Crystal Clarkein the same way Monica Dolan, Sara Stewart, Ron Cookand Justin Edwards in various roles.

In the lead roles, Colman plays Hilary Small, a theater employee; Ward as Stephen, a new employee who develops an unlikely bond with Hilary; Firth as Mr. Ellis, Hilary’s boss and theater manager; and Jones as Norman, a theater projectionist. In other characters, Brooke appears as Neil, Moodie as Delia, Onslow as Janine, Clarke as Ruby, Dolan as Rosemary Bates, Stewart as Brenda, Cook as Mr. Cooper, and Edwards as Jim Booth.

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Who are the creators of Empire of Light?

The story of the period romance drama is the brainchild of filmmaker Sam Mendes, who wrote and directed the film and is also a producer alongside Pippa Harris. Mendes is an acclaimed filmmaker who is best known for his previous award-winning projects like american beauty, celestial falland 1917. He was also an executive producer for TV shows like Brittany and dreadful pennyamong others. Empire of Light seems to be his love letter to cinema, and as mentioned in a interviewtaken from his personal life.

If you’re surprised by the brilliant cinematography hinted at in the film’s trailer, it’s because the film has Roger Deakins on board. Deakins is an English cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner, and is best known for his collaborations with the Coen Brothersand to create shine on the screen with films like The Shawshank Redemption, a beautiful spirit, Revolutionary Road, celestial fall, Blade Runner 2049and 1917, among many other popular titles. The score for Empire of Light is composed of Trent Reznor and Atticus Rosswho are best known for composing the soundtrack to The girl with the dragon tattoo.

When is Empire of Light set?

The story of Empire of Light is set in England during the 1980s, a socially, politically and culturally critical period in the history of the United Kingdom, which finds an important place in the plot and its narrative.

Related: The 11 Best Movies Cinematographer Roger Deakins Shot

What is the story of Empire of Light?

Empire of Light is the story of the Empire Theater and its employees, each facing their own emotional struggles. The film explores how they discover unlikely friendships in unexpected places. In his heart, Empire of Light is a powerful and poignant story of human lives and human relationships. Although based on the premise of romance, the film also touches on important social issues that Britain was grappling with at the time, which are still relevant today.

The plot follows Hilary, who works at The Empire theater in a seaside town in England, where she oversees the daily functions at the front of the house. But her job also leads her to being exploited by her manager, Mr. Ellis. Next comes Stephen, a new employee at the theater, who instantly bonds with Hilary. While dealing with her own issues, Stephen’s life is threatened by rampant racism. Angry at the world around them, the two seek safe haven with each other. But this comfort, like the existence of the theater, could be short-lived. And so, a strange parallel is formed between these two wounded souls and a theater that illuminates people’s lives. Because after all, “nothing is possible without light”.


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