Gather round children (or should I say young adults), while I, bestselling youth author Septimus Potatimus, tell ye a horrible, compelling tale of a summer enchanted by three Epic Fails.
You will already have guessed that our first chapter returns – for the 12,000th time – to Hollywood's depressing obsession with the next big teen fantasy cycle. Debuting in Ireland with a fairly paltry €68,000, the adaptation of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments: City of Bones looks to be immolating magically. See also the recent translations of Stephenie Meyer's The Host and Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's Beautiful Creatures.
Indeed, The Host – supposedly one of the year's financial catastrophes – actually took nearly €10,000 more than Bones on its Irish debut. Good luck with the second episode of Instruments that is, according to the studio, already trundling down the pipeline. Hmm.
Our second reasonably epic fail brings bad news to Norwich's most famous fictional idiot. Everybody you know may love Alan Partridge, but out there in the real Ireland he remains something of a niche interest. After a modest opening, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa dropped out of the top 10 after just one week. Its screen average suggests that it's about as popular as an afternoon with Alan and Sue Cook in the Travel Tavern.
This is not to say the Irish don't want comedies. We are still among the most laughy people in Europe. But we do like our comedies to be American and bolstered, wherever possible, by the presence of Adam Sandler. Last weekend, Jennifer Aniston – too often written off – returned to the top of the charts with the not-terrible We're the Millers. Consider this. Next year it will be 20 years since Friends began. And Aniston is still saleable as a romantic lead. Who knew?
Our third, and still more depressing fail, concerns the fate of Irish comedies during the summer. We've said it before. We will (sadly) say it again. By cajoling a Hollywood star onto its poster – albeit the mid-ranking Don Cheadle – The Guard managed to allay the fears of domestic audiences. Life's a Breeze had no such safety blanket and it duly failed to set anything much alight. When last spotted on the top 20, the film had limped its way to a cumulative total of €57,000. Aniston and co took around four times that amount in just three days. What did we just say about us liking our comedies American?
So, is there no good news out there? Well, there's good information, but little of it qualifies as news. The Irish still love old-fashioned thrillers starring proper, certified movie stars. 2 Guns is currently trundling past €400,000. Despicable Me 2 has confounded reasonable expectations to become the second-biggest film of 2013 worldwide. Oh, here's something worth repeating. The Conjuring – a very entertaining horror flick – has demonstrated that, without major stars or sequel status or any of the rest of that junk, a good populist film can generate dough on word of mouth alone.
There’s life in theatrical distribution yet. Maybe.