Star Wars' big comeback helps UCI Ireland's 10% profit boost

Despite only opening in mid-December, The Force Awakens was Ireland's highest-grossing film last year...

Star Wars' big comeback helps UCI Ireland's 10% profit boost

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Cinema group UCI Ireland enjoyed a bumper year in 2015, as profits jumped 10% to €1.24 million.

Revenues climbed 9% to €11.73m for the company, which operates 11 cinemas under the Odeon brand around Ireland.

The swift impact of Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly helped matters – though it only hit Irish screens on December 17th, it became the most popular movie of the year with Irish cinema-goers in just a couple of weeks, generating €4.76m at the box office.

Other heavy-hitters included the latest Bond flick, Spectre (grossing €4.5m nationwide), the animated Minions (€.25m) and Jurassic World (€4.251).

In the group's latest accounts, UCI Ireland directors advised 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."

While it expects similar activity for the foreseeable future, risks to the business include an increase in the availability of pirated films, changes to film viewing habits, competition from other cinemas, and the group's dependence on Hollywood production and the general upcoming film slate.

The directors are not concerned, however, about the increasing penetration of home cinema equipment and online film viewing, stating:

"The cinema provides a different and better film experience than home entertainment... these different distribution channels are generally complementary rather than competitive."

UCI Ireland's owner, the Odeon, and UCI Cinema Groups were acquired by China's Dalian-Wanda Group for £500m earlier this year.

Last year's figures made for good reading for Irish cinemas in general. Revenues of €104.1m represented a 4% on 2014, though the €124m high of 2009 is still some way off.