The 'year of the blockbuster' should push cinema revenues into growth mode after four years of decline, experts predict.
A jam-packed schedule of upcoming blockbuster releases, from Magic Mike: XXL to Star Wars and The Fantastic Four, means 2015 could be the most lucrative year on record for movie studios and cinemas, according to cinema advertiser Wide Eye Media.
Irish cinema admissions in the 12 months to the end of March are already up 3pc compared with the year before, with 1.02 million moviegoers flooding through doors in the 12 months. Ireland still has the highest rate of cinema attendance per head in any European country.
While some analysts predict the sheer number of major budget films due for release this year will saturate the market and limit each other's success, Wide Eye Media manager Eoin Wrixon disagrees.
"Hollywood has gotten much better at targeting specific audiences. The blockbusters being released this year have very clear target markets. Their timing is also fortuitous - big releases are well spaced out, with about two weeks between them.
"It's great news from an advertising perspective, getting people talking about cinema again after months of focus on formats like Netflix".
Child-orientated Minions Movie is expected to be one of the biggest hits of the Irish summer, Wide Eye Media predicts, followed by Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, Jurassic World and The Fantastic Four. The top film so far in 2015 was Fifty Shades of Grey, which has brought in an estimated €2.7m since its release on Valentine's Day. Racing up behind it is Fast and Furious 7.
Europe and Asia are increasingly being viewed as more important markets than the US for American blockbusters.
"Fast and Furious 7 was the first big US blockbuster to earn more in China than the US," said a spokesperson for IMC, the country's biggest cinema chain. "Last month's Avengers: Age of Ultron meanwhile, was launched in Europe and Asia before the US. That would've been unheard of a few years ago."
The sequel is thought to be critical to Disney's movie unit, which had record operating profits of $1.55bn last year, due to the animated hit Frozen.
Sunday Indo Business