It's official, Irish people are the EU's most avid movie-goers
Irish people have rekindled their love affair with the cinema, with ticket sales for the first quarter of this year soaring to their highest levels in a decade, hitting almost five million viewers.
Cinema admissions rocketed to 4,708,218 in the three months from the beginning of January to the end of March - up by 16pc from last year, and more than any previous year since 2008.
Separately, newly-compiled figures from IHS Screen Digest confirm that, along with the French, we are still the EU's most avid movie-goers.
Ireland and France topped the table, with 3.3 admissions per capita each year - significantly higher than the EU average.
So far in 2017, Disney blockbuster Beauty and the Beast has been the biggest movie of the year, having grossed more than €5.1m in Irish cinemas since its mid-March release.
Family films have proved the biggest attraction at the box office so far this year, with Sing in second place, followed by The Boss Baby and The Lego Batman Movie.
With the summer holidays approaching - traditionally a boom period for movie admissions - cinema watchdogs have predicted 2017 could yield record returns at the Irish box office.
Last year, box office receipts hit €110m - the highest total since 2012.
However, the highest-grossing movie of 2016, Bridget Jones's Baby, took in just €4.1m - €1m lower than Beauty and the Beast.
"Ireland's fascination with the cinema is growing, as 2017 has been a record-breaking year for admissions so far," said Wide Eye Media CEO Eoin Wrixon.
"Irish cinema admissions have been substantially up year on year since the beginning of 2017, and the figure for the first quarter of the year is up by an incredible 16pc - from 4,057,828 to 4,708,218 - on the same period last year.
"This is the first year since 2008 that quarter one admissions have exceeded 4.7 million."
"The cinema is always one of Ireland's most popular venues for family fun during the summer holidays, and with the release of Despicable Me 3 just around the corner on June 30, we also expect that movie to storm the box office and shake up the Top Ten."
Other upcoming movies that are expected to perform well include Baywatch and Wonder Woman - both which will be released nationwide early next month.
Other stand-out summer blockbusters include Alien: Covenant, which is out tomorrow, and Pirates of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge, which is released on May 26.