Margate, Empire of Light: Fury of ‘beautiful’ lanterns donated by Sam Mendes film removed

Residents are outraged at the council president’s refusal to light the town’s waterfront because it was donated by a film crew working for award-winning director Sam Mendes because it was “too bright”.

The decorative seaside lights that stretch for half a mile along Margate, Kent are part of the upcoming romantic film Empire of Light starring Olivia Colman and Colin Firth.

The film crew, who have been in town for almost seven months and brought in £4 million to the local economy, came up with the proposal to gift the lights to the town after positive feedback from residents and businessmen.

But after an inquiry into the cost of keeping the lights on, council officials rejected an offer by TV company Neil Street Productions.

Residents are outraged at council chiefs' refusal to light the town's waterfront (pictured before demolition) because it was donated by a film crew working for award-winning director Sam Mendes, 'too bright'

Residents are outraged at council chiefs’ refusal to light the town’s waterfront (pictured before demolition) because it was donated by a film crew working for award-winning director Sam Mendes, ‘too bright’

The film crew, who spent almost seven months in town and brought £4m to the local economy, offered to gift the lights to the town after positive feedback from residents and businessmen (pictured before they were demolished)

The film crew, who spent almost seven months in town and brought £4m to the local economy, offered to gift the lights to the town after positive feedback from residents and businessmen (pictured before they were demolished)

Director Sam Mendes was also spotted on set during filming in Margate

The Thanet District Council (TDC) also said the decorations had been damaged by the previous wet weather Got them down on Friday.

This means they are not suitable for long-term use on the waterfront and cannot be dimmed easily, which means they can cause car crashes and cause light pollution, the council said.

“Currently, the lights are too bright to pass road safety assessments and contribute to light pollution in the region, with potential impacts on the environment and biodiversity,” TDC said in a statement.

Disappointed residents have taken to social media to express their anger at the decision.

Jane Cadman wrote on Facebook: “They [TDC] Just don’t want the maintenance cost.

Lee Carpenter added: “They think they look good when lit, but even if TDC gets £4m to shoot, they won’t be too expensive to run.”

Sara Ransom asked: “Want to know what they’re going to do with these lights? They’re beautiful.

“Interestingly, they were not declared ‘unsafe’ during filming.”

Other locals said the addition of brighter lights actually made them feel safer walking along the waterfront late at night.

Locals say adding brighter lights actually makes them feel safer walking along the waterfront late at night (before the lights go out)

Locals say adding brighter lights actually makes them feel safer walking along the waterfront late at night (before the lights go out)

The Thanet District Council (TDC) also said the decorations were damaged by wet weather before they were removed on Friday (before the lights were removed).

The Thanet District Council (TDC) also said the decorations were damaged by wet weather before they were removed on Friday (before the lights were removed).

Decorative lighting that stretches for half a mile along Margate, Kent is installed as part of the upcoming film 'Empire of Light' starring Colin Firth

This romantic film involves a love story set in a British coastal cinema in the 1980s.It also starred Olivia Colman

The decorative lighting that stretches for half a mile along Margate, Kent, is part of the upcoming romantic movie “Empire of Light” starring Olivia Colman (right) and Colin Firth (left).Both stars were filmed while filming scenes from the film, which involves a love story, set in a British coastal cinema in the 1980s

Amy Bass said: “So we all paid council tax and all we wanted was some lovely lights and the women even said to make them more comfortable down that road at night, we couldn’t have them.

“Honestly, the council there is not strange. What a shame.

A spokesman for TDC said: “Neal Street Productions installed decorative lights on the Margate waterfront, from Nayland Rock to Margate Harbour, as part of director Sam Mendes’ feature film Empire of Light. part of the stage arrangement.

“Following a positive response from local residents and businesses, Neal Street Productions has officially offered to gift the lights to the town of Margate after filming. Thursday 26 May is currently scheduled for the final day of filming in Margate.

“Council officials, in consultation with the Kent County Council Roads Group, have conducted an inquiry into possible operating costs, ongoing energy and maintenance costs, and testing and permitting costs, should these measures be taken by Tane District Council.

“During the investigation, Neal Street Productions informed us that they had been experiencing technical issues with the lights, which were supposed to be installed as all-weather equipment, but were actually getting water in wet weather due to a manufacturing failure.

“On this basis, these lights are deemed unsuitable for long-term use in seaside areas and cannot withstand the constant weather effects they will inevitably experience.”

“Aside from concerns about the light’s resistance to wind and rain, the existing lights were not fitted with controls to allow them to be activated by a timer and not easily dimmed.”

Olivia Colman was seen building sandcastles on the beach as she filmed scenes with her co-star Michael Ward for the romantic movie Empire of Light

Olivia Colman was seen building sandcastles on the beach as she filmed scenes with her co-star Michael Ward for the romantic movie Empire of Light

TDC confirmed that they had made the “difficult” decision to reject the offer.

The spokesman added: “Now that filming is drawing to a close, the removal of lights on Neal Street will begin on Friday 27 May.

“While the lighting has had a positive effect on Margate Street View, we confirm that we have made the difficult decision to reject the offer after taking due account of the factors already listed.”

The Empire of Light team said they contributed £4 million to the local economy during filming, including venue rental, security, office space and accommodation, which began in November and ended on Thursday.

Councillors have contacted staff to ask if the infrastructure could be preserved so that better lights could be installed.

“We understand that the Margate Charter Trustees have contacted the Empire of Light’s production team to determine if any part of the infrastructure can be retained to facilitate the installation of more suitable and robust replacement lights,” the spokesman said.

Filmmaker and director Sam Mendes has worked on the film war epic 1917, the James Bond film Skyfall and Revolutionary Road.

The latest film, starring Michael Ward, is Mendes’ first solo screenplay.

Scheduled for a fall 2022 release, the film is being produced by Pippa Harris.