Roger Deakins has found his follow-up to Oscar winner “1917,” and it’s a 1980s romance titled “Empire of Light” that will reunite him with writer-director Sam Mendes for the fifth time. The project, now filming, is backed by Searchlight Pictures and stars Olivia Colman in the lead role. The working synopsis reads: “A love story, set in and around a beautiful old cinema, on the South Coast of England in the 1980s.”
“Empire of Light” is both Deakins and Mendes’ follow-up to their acclaimed World War I one-take drama “1917,” which scored 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film won Deakins his second Academy Award for Best Cinematography following “Blade Runner 2049.”
Deakins and Mendes have also worked together on “Jarhead,” “Revolutionary Road,” and the James Bond tentpole “Skyfall,” with the latter earning Deakins an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Mendes’ other cinematographer collaborations include Conrad Hall (“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition”), Ellen Kuras (“Away We Go”), and Hoyte van Hoytema (“Spectre”).
Searchlight Pictures is targeting a fall 2022 release date for “Empire of Light.” The project is overseen by Presidents Production, Film and Television Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum and Head of Development & Production, Searchlight Pictures UK Katie Goodson-Thomas. Mendes and Pippa Harris are producing via Neal Street Productions.
“I have long been an admirer of Searchlight and the dynamic way they have produced and released some of my favorite theatrical releases of recent years,” Mendes said in a statement. “This project is very close to my heart, and I couldn’t be more delighted that it has found its ideal home.”
Added Searchlight’s Greenbaum and Greenfield, “Sam has written an exquisite cinematic drama that captured our hearts from page one. He is a masterful filmmaker, and we look forward to working with him, Pippa, and Roger and to reunite with the great Olivia on this truly special film.”
Colman was the star of Searchlight’s “The Favourite,” which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. For “1917,” Deakins was awarded the American Society of Cinematographers prize for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Release and Sam Mendes won the Directors Guild of America prize for Outstanding Directing Feature Film.