Sunday 22 April 2018

How Dublin City Council lost on €35k for Star Wars Spire show

The Spire lit up as a lightsaber to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo: Patrice Le Paulmier
The Spire lit up as a lightsaber to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo: Patrice Le Paulmier

Laura Larkin and John Lawrence

DUBLIN City Council has admitted that "in hindsight" it could have charged Disney for lighting up the Spire as a promotional gimmick to advertise the latest Star Wars blockbuster.

Council executives were left red-faced when it emerged they had allowed the companies behind the multi-million euro franchise to use the landmark for free.

This was despite the fact that London authorities received the equivalent of €33,000 for a similar publicity stunt using Nelson's Column on Trafalgar Square.

However, in a statement the council has said that "perhaps in hindsight a fee could have been sought" and it "may adopt a different approach" for similar future events at the O'Connell Street monument.


Disney and Gala spent €35,000 lighting up the Spire from mid-December until January 2 as a light sabre to advertise Star Wars: The Force Awakens ahead of its release here.

Local councillor Gary Gannon said that it was "ridiculous" for council chiefs not to seek payment for the publicity stunt.

"I think the fact that we didn't charge is ridiculous. People made money from using our city as a prop to promote a film, that's not acceptable unless we as a city are benefiting from it.

"It defies belief that the council didn't have the foresight to charge a fee," he said.

"I can't see the benefit that the city got, apart from being seen as a novelty. If they're using our city to promote their film there should be some recompense for that.

"It creates a dangerous precedent. What other prop are we going to use to promote commercial brands," Mr Gannon asked.

"Can anyone just walk in and use one of our monuments to promote a film because we don't charge for this courtesy?"

In one email last December, released under the Freedom of Information laws, Disney Ireland manager Trish Long said the company had identified an opportunity with its new Star Wars film to work with the council on "reinvigorating O'Connell Street at Christmas time".

In a statement, DCC deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny said the council viewed the proposal to illuminate the Spire for the movie as a "once-off opportunity".

Mr Kenny said a fee could have been sought "but that might have resulted in the project not happening at all. And we are satisfied on this occasion that the right judgement was taken.

"It may well be possible that similar opportunities related to the Spire will arise again, and we may adopt a different approach including the seeking of a suitable fee," he added.

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