"Michael Collins" breaks Irish box office records


ONE week after its release, Neil Jordan's film, Michael Collins, has broken box office records in Ireland and gone straight to the top of the film charts in Britain.

In its opening weekend, the film took £442,867 in the Republic, compared to the £404,850 taken by Independence Day this summer.

Up until Thursday night, the film had taken £948,000 from 85 screens in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

"It's been breaking records all over the country," said Mr Paul Ward of the Ward Anderson cinema group, which has Michael Collins showing on 50 screens nationwide. "Independence Day was a summer holiday movie, so the regional cinemas were open for matinees. They're only open in the evening at this time of year, so we're taking more money from fewer shows.

"We notice particularly that we're getting an older audience who wouldn't normally go to the cinema. One man announced that he hadn't been to a film for 50 years.

Ms Barbara Murphy of UCI Cinemas agrees about the older audiences but is also receiving block bookings from schools for Michael Collins. UCI is showing the film on six screens at its Tallaght multiplex, and on five screens in Coolock, with receipts of £126,000 in the first seven days. She feels some people may think the cinemas are booked out but she says seats are available for most shows.

International film distributors treat Britain and Ireland as a single territory, so the UK weekend figures of £1.15 million include the record breaking Irish returns. In the US, the film has been open for five weeks. It took $1.41 million last weekend, bringing takings to about $7.8 million by yesterday, which is seen as an unspectacular but solid performance.

Exhibitors here are confident that the film will break more records. Mr Ward says the film will receive an unusually high level of repeat business and suggests that many people are holding off until the initial fuss dies down.