Empire Of Light: Release Date, Cast, And More

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Sam Mendes has never been one to repeat himself. Since making his directorial debut with the late-'90s cultural touchstone that is "American Beauty," the filmmaker has tried his hand at gangster movies, war films, James Bond flicks, and, uh, another war movie. Okay, so he sometimes repeats himself, but even when he's working in the same genre, the results are usually drastically different (as was the case with his war films "Jarhead" and "1917").

The other thing Mendes is known for is going with the flow. When quirky indie dramedies were all the rage in the aughts, he made 2009's "Away We Go." Then, after Chris Nolan proved you could make a serious, director-driven, spectacle-heavy franchise film with "The Dark Knight," Mendes did the same with "Skyfall." And when Nolan demonstrated how to make a grandiose-but-tedious followup to said movie, Mendes directed "Spectre." (I kid, I kid ... sorta.)

The point I'm getting at is, it seems Mendes' next project, "Empire of Light," once again sees him following the lead of other directors in intriguing ways (more on that to come later). Here's everything we know about the movie so far.

Empire of Light release date and where you can watch it

Searchlight Pictures announced "Empire of Light" in April 2021, nine months before filming began in Margate, England, and on the Kent coastline. The movie is now scheduled to open in theaters on December 9, 2022, and will begin streaming on Hulu sometime later, like other Disney-era Searchlight projects.

For as often as Searchlight's movies have been relegated strictly to streaming of late, there are some notable exceptions. "Empire of Light" looks to join a handful of Searchlight titles in getting a theatrical release in the latter half of 2022, including Tom George's whodunnit "See How They Run" and Martin McDonagh's dark dramedy "The Banshees of Inisherin." The date for Sam Mendes' film also suggests Disney and Searchlight see it as a potential awards season contender, which wouldn't come as a surprise. Mendes has more or less specialized in Academy-friendly fare since he started making movies nearly a quarter-century ago.

What is Empire of Light about?

Here's the official logline for "Empire of Light," a film Sam Mendes has described as a "personal project":

Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, EMPIRE OF LIGHT is a powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema from Academy Award® winning director Sam Mendes.

My apologies for repeating myself, but based on Mendes' previous comments and what few details we have, "Empire of Light" continues to sound a whole lot like the director's version of Giuseppe Tornatore's classic 1988 auto-biographical coming-of-age film, "Cinema Paradiso." This could also mean Mendes is following his peers Alfonso Cuarón and Kenneth Branagh in making a movie loosely inspired by his own personal history, much like those two did with the Oscar-winning "Roma" and "Belfast," respectively. Even Steven Spielberg is getting in on this trend with "The Fabelmans," a film that's slated to arrive just a few weeks before "Empire of Light."

Empire of Light cast and crew

Olivia Colman ("The Favourite," "The Lost Daughter") is starring in "Empire of Light" opposite fellow Oscar-winner Colin Firth ("A Single Man," "The King's Speech"), and BAFTA-winner Micheal Ward ("Blue Story," "Top Boy"). As for Sam Mendes, he will pull triple-duty on the film by serving as a producer, director, and sole writer.

Perhaps most exciting of all, "Empire of Light" will reunite Mendes with cinematographer Roger Deakins. The legendary director of photography finally won an Oscar for "Blade Runner 2049" before picking up his second Academy Award two years later for "1917," a high-wire act that was shot and edited to look like it was done in a single-take (okay, technically two takes). Deakins also worked with Mendes on "Jarhead," "Revolutionary Road," and "Skyfall," in case you need further proof "Empire of Light" will surely be a feast for the eyes. We will find out if it's more than that when it premieres later this year.