Cinemas face a tough year despite Harry Potter magic
IMC directors defer decision on further dividend until later
Despite the global premiere last week of the latest Harry Potter instalment, Irish Multiplex Cinemas (IMC) has predicted a tough 2009 for the industry.
IMC, which is controlled by cinema veterans Paul Ward and his 90-year-old father Leo, operates about 43 screens around the country. It posted an operating profit of €930,000 in the 12 months to the end of October 2008, down from €1.03m the previous year.
In accounts just filed for the company, the directors said that profitability had suffered as a result of the downturn in the general economic climate. They added that they anticipated 2009 would be a difficult year, but that the company should achieve profitability levels in line with those achieved in 2008 by focusing on retaining existing business and tightly monitoring costs.
A dividend of over €46,000 was paid during the last financial year in respect of the company's performance in 2006. The directors said a decision on paying any further dividend had been deferred until a later date. The directors were paid a total of €142,000 last year, unchanged from the previous period.
Despite the apparent difficulties in the market, IMC said earlier this year that it planned to double the number of screens it operates by 2012.
Paul and Leo Ward each control 28pc of IMC, while the remainder is split between various other family shareholders as well as Dublin Cinema Group, the owner of Dublin's Savoy cinema, which is part of the Ward Anderson group. Ward Anderson controls about half the nation's cinema screens. It was established by Leo Ward and his half-brother, now 94 years old, Kevin Anderson.
The latest Harry Potter movie, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', had its first Irish screening in Dublin on Monday evening, attended by one of the film's stars, Louth native Evanna Lynch.