Since he made his directorial debut with the Oscar-winning American Beauty in 1999, Sam Mendes' film career has gone from strength to strength – with two Bond flicks and the critically acclaimed war epic 1917 amongst his highlights.


Now he's back with a brand new film at the start of 2023: an '80s set drama that tells of an unlikely romance that develops in a beautiful old cinema on England's south coast.

Empire of Light boasts a starry cast that includes Academy Award winners Olivia Colman and Colin Firth alongside 2020 BAFTA Rising Star Michael Ward and the likes of Toby Jones, Tanya Moodie and Monica Dolan – if that sounds like your cup of tea, read on for everything you need to know about how to watch it.

How to watch Empire of Light in the UK

In the immediate future, there will only be one way to catch Empire of Light – by heading to the cinema.

The film is getting a wide theatrical release from Monday 9th January 2023, giving cinemagoers up and down the country the chance to watch it on the big screen.

This follows the film's premiere at the 2022 Telluride Film Festival in September and a limited theatrical release in the US in December.

Is Empire of Light on Netflix?

No, Empire of Light is not a Netflix movie – and seems unlikely to land on the streaming service any time soon even after its theatrical release.

It will, however, likely land on Disney Plus at some point in the not-too-distant future – as has been the case for other Searchlight Pictures releases in recent months.

Empire of Light Disney Plus release date

Empire of Light
Empire of Light

It's too early to say exactly when Empire of Light will arrive in Disney Plus – but we can get a general idea based on other recent titles from Searchlight's slate.

Comic whodunnit See How They Run arrived on the platform on 2nd November 2022, less than two months after its theatrical release on 9th September, while Martin McDonagh's black comedy Banshees of Inisherin landed on the streamer on 21st December, exactly two months after it debuted in cinemas.

More recently, The Menu was added to the library less than two months after its theatrical release – so we can probably safely estimate that a similar release strategy will be put in place for Empire of Light.

It therefore seems likely that the film will debut on Disney Plus between 45 days and two months after its cinema release, meaning the end of February or the beginning of March.

When is Empire of Light coming to DVD and Blu-ray?

We don't yet have an exact date for a physical media release for the film – but it will likely follow shortly after it is added to Disney Plus. We'll update this page when we hear more concrete information.

Empire of Light plot

The official synopsis for the film reads: "Empire of Light is an intimate and moving story about love, friendship, and connection, set in a coastal town in Southern England against the social turmoil of the early 1980s.

More like this

"Hilary (Olivia Colman), a woman with a difficult past and an uneasy present, is part of a makeshift family at the old Empire Cinema on the seafront. When Stephen (Micheal Ward) is hired to work in the cinema, the two find an unlikely attraction and discover the healing power of movies, music and community."

Empire of Light trailer

If you're intrigued by what you've read so far about Empire of Light, you can get a brief preview by watching the below trailer:

Empire of Light is released in UK cinemas on Monday 9th January 2023 and will later be added to Disney Plus. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year.

Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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