Empire of Light: Sam Mendes, Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward discuss future of the cinema

Sam Mendes has revealed he thinks the current state of multiplex cinemas is "scary and sad" as he releases new movie Empire of Light.

Set at a cinema in Margate in the 1980s, the movie talks about the unifying power of the cinema experience alongside themes around mental health and racism.

But Mendes, who won an Oscar for American Beauty and has made two James Bond movies, told Yahoo UK he has serious concerns about whether films like Empire of Light will have a place at the multiplex in the future.

Empire of Light is in UK cinemas now.

Video transcript

SAM MENDES: People talk about, oh, this-- look, attendances are back up to pre-COVID levels. But those attendances are seeing 20, 25 movies. They're not seeing 200 movies. And you go to the cinema-- you know, I went to cinema the other day and screen one, "Avatar," screen two, "Avatar," screen three, "Avatar."

And you know, that's not why we invented multiplexes, but that's how they're going to be used now so that you can see "Avatar" every half an hour. And that's scary to me and sad. And so yeah, I do think that the idea of a wide choice at the cinema is going. And to say anything else is pretending-- is to sort of, you know, pretend it's not happening.

MICHAEL WARD: But I also--

SAM MENDES: But I think what you want to do is you want to keep the big screen experience for the bigger movies.


MICHAEL WARD: But I also think even with like the "Avatar" example, a lot of people going to see "Avatar," then they'll see "Empire of Light" in the trailer before it, and I feel like that is going to get a lot more people now to say, oh, like when we go-- like if you're going there with someone to watch "Avatar," like let's go watch "Empire of Light" next week. It's out. You know what I'm trying to say? I feel like that actually will help in a kind of like backhanded way.

SAM MENDES: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MICHAEL WARD: You know what I mean? So-- yeah, it's kind of a weird one.

OLIVIA COLMAN: I think-- I agree with you. The same film on all the screens, that's quite depressing. But then my first in with the cinema was watching "Star Wars" and big film, big-- and then I discovered the art cinema in my teenage years and discovered a whole new world of different types of film. So if I hadn't seen the big, big blockbuster, I might never have discovered--

SAM MENDES: Yeah, that's true.

OLIVIA COLMAN: But you're right, I mean, the same film on every cinema, that's-- that's--



MICHAEL WARD: [INAUDIBLE] where you have all the cinemas there. Like I couldn't get into one. I'm going to get-- I'm going to find my way into one of these cinemas.