What makes for the perfect movie blockbuster? As with all those Christmas leftovers in the fridge, is it possible to use some key ingredients to whip up a recipe for the perfect people-pleasing, eye-popping kickass flick?
It's a question that many a cigar-chomping, dollar-signs-for-eyeballs Hollywood bigwig would love answered -- and they could do a lot worse than look to Ireland's cinema-going habits for ideas.
That's because the Irish are officially a nation of cinema addicts, coming second only to Iceland in the average number of trips per person to the flicks (4.33 if you're interested).
Feel-good movies, comedies and fantasy adventures account for the biggest draws at the Irish box office this year, with the most recent industry figures naming the Vegas-based stag night comedy The Hangover as the number one Irish movie of 2009 (raking in €5m).
The box office stats will have to be updated yet again to take in the huge popularity of New Moon, the second movie in the cash-sucking tween-vampire Twilight series, and the anticipated success of James Cameron's 3D epic Avatar.
Even in the arthouse cinema stakes, escapism and glamour seem to have won out in the box-office charts. Patrick Stewart, press officer for the Irish Film Institute, reveals that the year's top grossing new release was The September Issue, the documentary that went behind-the-scenes at Vogue magazine, gaining unprecedented access to its glacial bob-haired editor, Anna Wintour.
With that in mind, it would be a good idea for some enterprising Irish filmmaker to jet over to Tinseltown, and bombard the studio execs with a pitch for the ideal blockbuster, using as a template the most popular movies at the Irish box office over the past year.
The as-yet-untitled hit should have a script half-based on a multi-million-selling book, with original scenes crafted by top rom-com writers specialising in pratfalls and opposites-attract screen couples. Producers should hire Danny Boyle and Michael Bay to co-direct, and consider releasing the movie early in the summer, before re-releasing it with added 3D footage as the cold(er) weather and the threat of hairshirt budgets close in.
This ideal movie would have to be a partially-animated, teen angst, vampire-themed, romantic-action-fantasy-comedy with serious sequel/franchise potential, packed with big laughs, outrageous set-pieces and a cast of kooky supporting characters -- Bruno's Sacha Baron Cohen, and Zach Galifianakis, break-out weirdo star of The Hangover, should suffice.
The main characters would have to be unfeasibly good-looking and buff teenage vampires (New Moon), whose mopey emo misery would only be lightened by their unconditional love for their naughty but adorable golden Labrador retriever (Marley and Me).
At least one of said dog-loving vampires must also be born into poverty and, through their wiles and life experience, triumph over adversity and win the girl (along with a mountain of cash) à la Slumdog Millionaire.
There would need to be a computer-animated sequence half way through featuring a hapless sabre-toothed squirrel futilely attempting to source an acorn (Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs), and 3D animated action pitting Monsters Vs Aliens, voiced by Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogen.
This movie would also require the presence of Sandra Bullock playing a hardnosed but ultimately soft-hearted Type-A career bitch (The Proposal), one who ideally works at a fashion magazine (The September Issue), and spends her spare time noisily battling Decepticons alongside Shia LaBeouf and a scantily-clad Megan Fox (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen).
It would also help if there was a subplot featuring a crotchety old racist resembling Clint Eastwood growling politically incorrect epithets under his breath (Gran Torino), all while mentoring a young wizard with a dark and complicated family history and a fateful role in the survival of the world (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince).
Finally, producers should manage all of that in a nifty, attention-span-limited two-hour running time.
Now that's not asking too much, is it, Hollywood? Start spreading that magical movie fairy dust and start rolling.