CINEMA bosses are pinning their hopes on comic-book heroes luring people to the big screen, as takings plunge.
Irish box offices took in €42.2m up to June 6, down by over €1m compared with the same period last year.
Rentrak EDI, which collates the figures, said there was "reason for optimism" despite the overall decline, as last year's figures were boosted by the early success of 'Avengers'.
US investor Hilco, which has snapped up retailers HMV and Xtravision out of insolvency, is hoping to cash in on the "stay-at-home" trend by combining the two brands under one roof in a slimmed down national chain.
In cinemas, this year's major blockbuster 'Iron Man 3' has proved the star as it has taken in more than €2.8m, yet the much-lauded trip into the glitzy 1920s with 'The Great Gatsby' and the comedy 'Hangover III' have not delivered.
So far this year, 12 films have grossed more than €1m each – up from just seven this time last year. The film adaptation of 'Les Miserables', starring Russell Crowe as a vengeful police inspector opposite Hugh Jackman as a reformed prisoner, has remained a steady lure with €2.3m in takings, while animated movie 'The Croods' proved popular among a younger crowd as the third-highest grossing film at €2.2m.
Films with strong Irish links including Neil Jordan's vampire movie 'Byzantium', starring Irish actress Saoirse Ronan and Bond girl Gemma Arterton, and the Carlow girl's sci-fi movie 'The Host', failed to register in the top 10.
Opening as the country basked in summer sunshine, Jordan's movie took in just €39,000 in two weeks.
"With no distractions like the Olympics and the Euros this year, I suspect more people will be lured to the cinema to watch the upcoming blockbusters 'Man of Steel', 'Pacific Rim', 'Wolverine' and 'World War Z'," said a Rentrak EDI spokesman. "Comic-book adaptations have proved successful in Ireland."