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Irish Films Swell Box Office
09 Oct 2003 :
Screen Producers Ireland (SPI) today stated that the success of Irish made films released in 2003 has directly contributed to sustaining the Irish box office this year, despite the UK box office experiencing a 7% decline in business. Films such as Veronica Guerin and Intermission, both produced with the assistance of the Section 481 tax incentive, have played a key role in driving Irish audiences to cinemas around the country, grossing 6.5 million between them to date. The Irish cinema/exhibition sector today raised its concerns on the impact the demise of Section 481 will have on its 7,000 employees nationwide.

From January to August 2002 (inclusive) there were 11.5 million admissions to Irish cinemas and this figure has remained consistent for January to August 2003, despite an overall decline in UK box office figures. Figures for August 2003 show a year on year increase of 17% in admissions in Ireland, with Veronica Guerin being the number one movie in Ireland so far this year. The success of Irish films has resulted in the Irish box office grossing 80 million to date this year, despite the failure of some of the Hollywood summer blockbusters to draw in large audiences as expected.

Ronan Glennane, Spokesperson for the Ward Anderson Group, a leading Irish cinema owner, whose properties include the Savoy, Dublin, IMC, Dun Laoghaire, and Omniplex, Galway, believes that the cinema/exhibition sector will experience a sharp downturn if the government does not heed calls from the Irish film industry to retain the Section 481 tax incentive.

"The Irish box office has managed to hold its own this year, and this is largely due to the wealth and quality of Irish made films released which has attracted huge audiences. It proves that there is a high demand from Irish people for Irish films. There is no doubt the cinema/exhibition sector in Ireland will suffer if the film industry loses its tax incentive going forward. There are 7,000 people employed throughout Ireland in the cinema screen business and this high level of employment will be affected with the cessation of a tax incentive for film production in Ireland. Large productions simply won't be made here anymore and the number of indigenous films will seriously dwindle. The knock on affects of the loss of the tax incentive will be felt not just by Irish producers and directors, but by the exhibition and distribution sectors also," states Mr Glennane.

Joan Egan, Chair, Screen Producers Ireland and Executive Director, Tyrone Productions, asserts, "It's encouraging to see that Irish people are still eager cinema-goer's. We continue to have the highest admission levels per capita in Europe. However, the growth of the Irish film industry in recent years has played a major role in creating this interest and momentum, and unless the government realises that film production in this country cannot be sustained without a tax incentive, this momentum will cease rapidly and quality Irish films become a thing of the past.

"I urge the government to continue to support our indigenous film industry, the proof is there that Irish people have an appetite for Irish produced films. Our recent report shows that the incentive doesn't cost the tax payer, but in fact provides a three to one return on the Governments investment and supports some 4,300 jobs in the film production industry," Ms Egan continues.

Buena Vista, the company responsible for distributing films such as Veronica Guerin and Intermission, is a major supporter of indigenous film production, as Brendan McCaul, Vice-President and GM of Buena Vista International Ireland explains:

"The quality of Irish films has improved enormously in the last couple of years. There is such a huge pool of talented, skilled and experienced people working in the Irish film industry now, that I believe we've only seen the tip of the iceberg. Without a tax incentive to assist home-grown productions, however, the golden era of Irish film may have already come and gone, which would be a terrible shame."





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