Profits at cinema group UCI Ireland soared by 10%, to €1.24m, last year — largely boosted by movie-goers flocking to see the latest Star Wars movie.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened last December, but within the space of a couple of weeks became the country’s highest-grossing movie of 2015, generating €4.76m at the Irish box office. Its success contributed to revenues at United Cinemas International (Ireland) increasing by 9% to €11.73m last year.
UCI Ireland operates under the Odeon brand and has eleven cinemas in Blanchardstown, Cavan, Charlestown, Coolock, Limerick, Naas, Newbridge, Portlaoise, Stillorgan, and the Point Village in Dublin’s docklands.
Other big earnings contributors during the year were the latest Bond movie, Spectre, which grossed €4.5m nationally, Minions, which took in €4.25m, Jurassic World, which made €4.251m in Ireland, and Pixar movie, Inside Out, which grossed €3.49m.
Last year, cinemas across the country generated revenues of €104.1m — representing a 4% increase on the previous year. However, box office receipts were still some way down from the €124m enjoyed in 2009.
In the latest accounts, the directors of UCI Ireland said that “the company has a robust medium plan, which is consistent with the group strategy for growth and there is evidence that the differentiated strategy has already led to operating and financial outperformance in 2015”.
They added that they were happy with the performance of the company during the year and expect the general level of activity to continue for the foreseeable future.
On risks to its business, the company said: “Though medium-term attendance figures are broadly stable, there is some volatility year-on-year, depending on the film slate, which in turn depends on production from Hollywood and local content in each country.
“An increase in the availability of pirated films, changes to customer film viewing habits or the level of competition from other exhibitors may also have an impact on attendance.
“Some commentators are concerned about the impact of the increasing penetration of home cinema equipment and online film viewing on cinema attendance…the directors believe that cinema provides a different and better film experience than home entertainment — that these different distribution channels are generally complementary rather than competitive”.
Earlier this year, China’s Dalian-Wanda Group — via its US subsidiary AMC Entertainment — said it was acquiring UCI Ireland’s owner, the Odeon, and UCI Cinemas Group for £500m.
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