empire of light

Olivia Colman is teaming up with Sam Mendes for a love story. The Oscar-winning actress has signed on to star in Empire of Light, a romantic drama for Searchlight Pictures that will reteam the 1917 director with his Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins.

Deadline reports that Sam Mendes has found his follow-up to his Oscar-winning 2019 war drama 1917 in Empire of Light, a new romantic drama which he also wrote, for Searchlight Pictures. Mendes will team up with The Crown and The Favourite actress Olivia Colman for the first time with this project, which also marks his first solo outing as a screenwriter (he previously co-wrote 1917 with Krysty Wilson-Cairns). Deakins, his cinematographer on 1917, Skyfall, and Revolutionary Road, is also on board.

The film is described as a “love story” that is “set in and around a beautiful old cinema, on the South Coast of England in the 1980s,” according to Searchlight, which made the announcement Tuesday. Otherwise, details are being kept under lock and key. It’s not known who will be starring opposite Colman in this romance.

Despite the scant details, a team-up between Colman and Mendes is exciting. The Oscar-winning actress has seen an explosion in opportunities since her incredible turn in The Favourite, nabbing the lead role in The Crown and earning acclaim left and right. She’s also back in the Oscar conversations this year for her performance in The Father, for which she’s earned high praise and a Best Supporting Actress nod. The days of Colman, A-list star, are here, and getting to see an above-40s actress get the lead in a love story is just a wonderful prospect. Though Mendes has been dutifully delivering prestige drama riffs on Christopher Nolan in recent years, he’s still a skilled director to look forward to — I joke about the Nolan thing, but 1917 is actually very good. And, of course, with Deakins involved, you know it will look absolutely stunning. This will be Mendes’ first project since 1917 became a critical darling and surprise commercial hit in 2019, raking in $384 million at the worldwide box office, including a $159 million domestic haul.

Mendes is producing Empire of Light with partner Pippa Harris via the duo’s Neal Street Productions. Overseeing the project for Searchlight are production presidents Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum along with head of development & production, Searchlight Pictures UK, Katie Goodson-Thomas.

A fall 2022 release is being eyed for Empire of Light, per The Hollywood Reporter.

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