CINEMA fans have been turning to the movies in massive numbers, despite the downturn.
More than 1.5m Irish movie goers went to their local cinema last month -- an increase of more than 14pc on March admissions for 2009.
Blockbusters such as Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland and the Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island helped pull in big crowds, each grossing €3.5m and €1.5m respectively at the box office this year.
And the growth looks set to continue over the summer, with more blockbusters on the way.
The upcoming films including Sex And The City 2 and the third instalment of the hugely successful Twilight franchise, The Twilight Saga's Eclipse, are expected to be big draws.
Meanwhile adrenaline junkies can look forward to action and adventure blockbusters such as Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe, and Prince Of Persia, The Sands Of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as the remake of the cult classic The A-Team, featuring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper.
Family audiences will also be catered for with the impending release of a variety of 3D family films, including Shrek Forever After, the long-awaited Toy Story 3, Space Chimps 2, and Step Up 3D, which all appear over the coming months.
New figures by Carlton Screen Advertising show that cinema admissions for the first quarter of this year revealed a year-on-year increase of 1.2pc.
It said that one third of 15 to 34-year-olds say they go to the cinema every month, and "all the younger demographics list it as their first choice leisure activity ahead of playing computer games and watching TV".
Carlton pointed out that "despite the economic challenges of early 2010, the number of people going to the cinema throughout the Republic has continued to rise".
Cinemas here have benefited from the release of high profile 3D movies such as Avatar, which became the number one film of all time at the Irish box office.