Business Irish

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Bond investment brings return for cinema sector

Peter Flanagan

Published 17/04/2013 | 05:00

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BOND arrived too late. the dank Turkish hotel room contained little other than the dead agent's body and a laptop. 007 picked up the computer, turned it around and flung it back on the couch.

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"It's gone," he muttered, and turned on his heel.

The hard drive had been torn out of the machine, and with it the identity of every undercover British agent on the planet had been blown. What had been a minor problem was now threatening the national security of the entire British state.

If you saw that scene play out on a cinema screen last year, congratulations. You helped make 'Skyfall' the most popular title of 2012.

The latest James Bond installment took in €5.95m in Ireland last year, according to cinema advertisers Carlton, in what was a return to form for the venerable franchise and the cinema industry in Ireland overall.

Like most industries, cinemas made hay during the boom but have suffered badly during the bust.

The number of people paying to enter cinemas around the country was less than 13 million in 1999 but that rocketed to more than 18 million by 2007. Since then the decline has been sharp. Numbers fell some 12pc by 2011, when 16.4 million people paid in. That downward trend is believed to have continued last year, but the rate of decline is thought to have slowed.

The cinema business here remains a big one, with a night at the movies still among the most popular ways to spend an evening.

Just how big a business it is was revealed during the court case between Paul Ward and Paul Anderson, which resulted in the break-up of their Dublin Cinema Group earlier this year.

The company controlled roughly half of the Irish market, and owned most of the well-known cinemas in the country, including the landmark Savoy Cinema in Dublin and IMC multiplexes around the country.

The figures bandied about in the courts were staggering. Even in what we are led to believe is the age of online films and DVDs, the Savoy was still valued at around €8.3m. The IMC complex in Cork meanwhile is estimated to be worth around €15m.

All told, the cinemas controlled by Ward Anderson had around 38 cinemas and multiplexes – out of 75 in the country.

The group's Omniplex branded cinemas have 198 screens on their own.

Despite the downturn, the cinema market has remained at least relatively strong.

In these straitened times, the country could obviously do with a good dose of escapism every now and then.

Irish Independent

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