Saturday 24 March 2018

Blockbuster 'Star Wars' awakens movie fans as they return to cinemas in droves

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo: AP
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo: AP

Jane O'Faherty

It was a blockbuster year for Irish cinemas, with many theatres noticing more and more people seeking a big-screen experience.

The release of numerous eagerly-awaited movies in 2015 has contributed to a rise in cinema ticket sales, with many owners optimistic ahead of the New Year.

Recently-released box office figures from Rentrak show box office takings for the year reached over €100m by late December. And that figure rose even higher as 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' drove ticket sales up.

The film, which has been applauded by critics and fans alike, became the first film to reach over €4m at the Irish box office within seven days.

'Spectre', 'Minions' and 'Jurassic World' were also big winners at the box office - all three earned more than €4m each at Irish cinemas. No film released in 2014 brought in that amount.

Other high-grossing films this year include 'Inside Out', 'Avengers: The Age Of Ultron', 'Fast & Furious 7' and 'Fifty Shades of Grey', all of which earned more than €2m each.

Overall, the top 20 films of 2015 gained over €49m in 2015 - a 19pc increase on last year.

Josh Byrne, assistant manager at Waterford Omniplex, said the end of the year had been a particularly busy time. "It's been our busiest week so far," he told the Irish Independent, adding that "hundreds" had returned to the cinema for the eagerly-anticipated Star Wars. "Since the midnight screening, it's been mental. Three-quarters of our screens have been full every day," he added.

But while Mr Byrne said much of the build-up was down to the space opera, it wasn't the only movie that did well.

"'Minions' was massive," he said. "In Waterford, 'Minions' was one that was hugely popular for three or four weeks."

Another film that made an impression was 'Fifty Shades of Grey', which Josh said sparked "pandemonium" among cinemagoers.

"I know people who hadn't gone to the cinema in years," he said. "Now, with big blockbusters, they are starting to come back."

"I remember when I was a kid, people would dress up to see the older Star Wars films," he added. "We're starting to see that again."

Annette Meaney, of IMC Kilkenny, said ticket sales had surged since the middle of the year, and that she was seeing more and more cinemagoers coming as Christmas got nearer.

"We had queues outside the cinema the morning after schools finished for the holidays," she said, adding that sales had gone up by 80pc in the space of one day.

"Our regulars would have come once a month, but they are definitely coming more often now."

"With the likes of 'Brooklyn', a lot of people who hadn't been to the cinema in 30 years came to that," she said. "'The Lady in the Van' was another one that attracted the older generation."

Irish Independent

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