Blockbuster year for cinemas as box-office takings soar 11pc
PEOPLE turned to the big screen to escape their recessionary blues last year, as cinemas recorded blockbuster times.
In the midst of a downturn, it appeared film-goers needed a little cheer to go with their popcorn as they immersed themselves in comedies, innovative 3D spectaculars and children's movies.
The numbers opting to visit the movies soared during 2009, as the Irish box office raked in €124.7m -- up 11pc on the previous year.
The top performer at the Irish box office was stag-night comedy 'The Hangover', which grossed €4.7m.
It was closely followed by 'Avatar', the 3D sci-fi extravaganza from James Cameron, which proved a hit as it pulled in €4.3m in the final two weeks of the year.
The movie is being tipped at 15/8 by bookmakers Paddy Power to sink 'Titanic' by taking over as the highest grossing movie ever.
Lucy Jones, the director of client services at Nielsen EDI, which collates the box-office figures, touted the resurgence of 3D technology as having rejuvenated the appeal of animation and horror movies for cinema audiences.
One such film was the Disney/Pixar 3D animation 'Up', which secured number three in the box-office ratings.
More than 18 3D releases are expected to make it to the big screen this year, while the familiar format of best-selling book adaptations includes Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones', starring Carlow actress Saoirse Ronan.
Irish releases failed to display the same box-office force as the Hollywood blockbusters, with the award-winning surfing documentary 'Waveriders' taking €110,400. The thriller 'Cracks', filmed in Wicklow and Dublin and starring Eva Green, came a close second in the Irish box-office takings, while the Cartoon Saloon's award-winning hit animation 'The Secret of Kells' took in more than €72,700.
The summer proved sluggish and it took until November for the latest film in the vampire series 'Twilight' to set the box office alight.
'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' took in more than €1m on its opening weekend.
Earlier this month, Cineworld, which operates a complex at Parnell Street, Dublin, admitted the resurgence in 3D had helped attract strong audiences.
It revealed that box office takings and popcorn sales had soared in the UK and Ireland, although screen advertising revenues had fallen.