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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands becomes box office hit

A poster for 66 Days, a film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands (Fine Point Films/PA)
A poster for 66 Days, a film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands (Fine Point Films/PA)

A film about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands has become one of the most lucrative Northern Irish films ever.

66 Days has earned £110,000 at the box office only weeks after its release.

The documentary-style production was created to give younger people a sense of the emotions and political tensions surrounding one of the defining episodes of the Troubles and lauded in some quarters but lambasted by victims of republican murders.

Director Brendan Byrne said: "This is simply fantastic news. This film has been dear to my heart and thus far is certainly the pinnacle of my documentary making career.

"I knew it was very important subject matter and we hoped that it would attract audiences north and south.

"The sheer box office success of 66 Days, added to our critical acclaim, has been a little unexpected but very welcome for everyone on the production team."

It is 35 years since Maze prison inmate Sands starved himself as part of a republican campaign for political status.

He was hailed a martyr by his supporters while then prime minister Margaret Thatcher vowed never to bow to the demands of terrorists, and unionists recalled IRA attacks on prison officers and killings committed even while Sands stood for election to Westminster.

The film has surpassed recent hits including Steve McQueen's work about Sands entitled Hunger, which starred Michael Fassbender, and the Terri Hooley Belfast music industry figure bio-pic Good Vibrations.

While Hunger took £109,000 and Good Vibrations took £103,000 in total at the Northern Ireland box office, Bobby Sands 66 Days heading into its fourth week of release has taken £110,000 so far, Mr Byrne said.

He added: "It just proves that people do love a good documentary and now that the box office for 66 Days has even surpassed two fiction films - both of which I admire hugely (Hunger and Good Vibrations), I hope we'll see more documentaries in our local cinemas."

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