Can you guess what the biggest film in Irish cinemas was last year?

Ireland had the highest cinema attendance in Europe in 2018, with 3.3 visits per person

Cities rise and fall. The tides wax and wane. But one truth remains constant. The annual report from the International Union of Cinemas has confirmed that, yet again, Ireland has the highest per capita cinema attendance in Europe.

Irish people averaged 3.3 cinema visits per year, more than twice the average for the continent as a whole. Unsurprisingly, the cineastes of France were in second place with 3.2 visits. The European figure remained stable at 1.5.

Domestic attendance was down 2.1 per cent on the previous year, but this was less than the 3.3 percent decrease across the continent.

Disappointingly the percentage takings for local productions dropped from 2.4 percent to 2 per cent. This was despite Lance Daly's Black 47 registering as a genuine commercial hit in 2018. The famine western took in €1.5 million across Ireland.


The biggest film overall domestically was the bouncy Abba sequel Mamma Mia! Here We go Again. The musical genre's continuing strength – in Ireland more than anywhere else – was confirmed with A Star is Born securing second spot. Avengers: Infinity War, the highest-grossing worldwide release of the year, took the domestic bronze.

The report offers fascinating snippets on the differences in cinematic taste from nation to nation. Despite the involvement of much British talent, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was, in the UK, beaten into second place by the Avengers.

Black Panther, the highest grosser in the US, did no better than number three – its lone bronze position coming in Macedonia – anywhere on the continent. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation was number one in two countries: Latvia and Bulgaria (a nation with historical connections to the real Transylvania).

The latest JK Rowling epic Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, couldn't manage even a top four spot in its native UK, but it was number one in Germany and in Germany alone. Answers on a postcard…

Screen Ireland, The British Film Institute and other national film bodies will be looking with interest at those countries that registered high totals for local product. Turkey performed best with an eye-watering 62.9 percent of takings going to films made at home (miles ahead of France's otherwise impressive 39 per cent).

Another musical did the business in Turkey with Müslüm, biopic of arabesk singer Müslüm Gürses, topping the nation's overall charts.

Other countries with a native film as their highest grosser included Denmark, Lithuania and Luxembourg. That last nation's Superjhemp Retörns, concerning a super-powered civil servant seeking to save "Luxusbourg [sic] from comic catastrophe," seems unlikely to open in these territories.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist