A still of Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick. Alamy Stock Photo

Top Gun: Maverick was the highest grossing film in Irish cinemas last year

The sequel to the 1980s blockbuster took in over €6 million at the Irish box office.

A SEQUEL TO a Hollywood blockbuster from the 1980s was the biggest hit in Irish cinemas last year, taking in over €6 million at the box office.

New figures from the Irish Film Classification Office show the action-adventure film, Top Gun: Maverick was the most commercially successful movie of the year in Ireland.

The film starring Tom Cruise in a reprise of his role from 36 years earlier as a pilot in the US armed forces took in almost €6.1 million in revenue.

Sequels of hit movies dominated the most popular films screened in the Republic last year, with the second highest grossing film, Minions: The Rise of Gru.

The fifth movie in the highly successful animated Despicable Me/Minions series recorded box office receipts of over €4.8 million.

It was followed by another sequel, The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson in the title role and Irish actor Colin Farrell as Penguin, which took in over €4.4 million.

The Batman surpassed Top Gun: Maverick in terms of box office receipts for the opening weekend of its release with revenue of €1.37 million compared to around €585,000 for the Tom Cruise film.

The fourth biggest grossing movie in Ireland last year, Avatar: The Way of Water, with revenue of €3.74 million might well have overtaken Top Gun: Maverick for the number one spot but its release just before Christmas meant its box office receipts were based on just three weeks in the cinema.

The list of top five movies – which was completed with another sequel, Sing 2, in fifth place with receipts of €3.45 million – accounted for almost 20% of total income in 2022.

Overall box office revenue from the country’s 110 cinemas last year was just over €92 million, which is 23% below their pre-pandemic peak of €119.7 million in 2019.

The director of film classification, Ciarán Kissane, said a total of 438 films were certified for release in Irish cinemas in 2022 – up 52% on the previous year when many screens had remained closed for periods due to lockdown restrictions during the pandemic.

“This is indicative of the Irish cinema industry returning to pre-Covid levels of theatrical release,” said Kissane.

He claimed further growth was projected for 2023.

However, Kissane – whose role was previously known as the film censor – said the number of DVD titles certified in 2022 had decreased by 26% annually to 1,511.

He claimed such figures were in line with the increasing contraction of the DVD market in the context of streaming and video-on-demand platforms.

Nevertheless, Kissane said future trends in relation to DVD titles were difficult to predict.

The director confirmed that none of his decisions on the classification of films last year had been appealed to the Classification of Films Appeals Board.

A total of 10 complaints from the public about movies were made to the IFCO last year – up from three in 2021 – including complaints relating to the supernatural horror, Smile; the historical thriller, Emancipation; and the Viking epic, The Northman.

Meanwhile, the IFCO said an extensive research project on the public’s views on the suitability of existing classification guidelines found 80% of parents who were aware of the IFCO trusted it to provide reliable age ratings.

However, the research also revealed the need for initiatives to raise awareness about age rating symbols as it showed there was some uncertainty around what the 12A and 15A ratings meant in practice.

The areas of most concern for parents were in relation to content depicting violence and the threat of violence, discrimination and derogatory representation, sexual violence, suicide and the portrayal of young people on screen.

The IFCO said bullying was especially perceived as an area which could be treated in an educational or supportive manner.

The research showed the vast majority of parents believed the outcome of a film should influence its age classification.

The IFCO said teenagers wanted to see less focus on age classification and more emphasis on alerting them to triggering content to help them make their own decisions about what was suitable and not suitable for them to watch.

The IFCO acknowledged that managing the material that their children watch on a daily basis on “solo” viewing devices like mobile phones was “an increasing challenge” for parents.

It noted the research showed that practically all children aged 13 and over often watched content alone with minimal parental supervision or monitoring.

The survey’s findings found 6 in 10 parents were concerned about their children accessing content from streaming sites as well as being exposed to inappropriate content.

More than three-quarters of parents were worried about the effect that inappropriate content could have on their children’s mental well-being.

Half of all parents reported feeling overwhelmed trying to monitor the number of media devices in their household as well as being confused about how streamed content was classified, recommended and accessed.

The IFCO observed that the content which parents most definitely felt deserved an 18 rating was sex and sexual violence and the normalisation of problematic behaviour such as suicide or drug taking.

In his annual report, Kissane said revenue at the IFCO was up 6% to €872,000 in 2022 but it remained over 25% below pre-pandemic levels.

However, he warned that a recovery in revenue from classifying movies for release in cinemas was insufficient to offset the decline in income from video and licence fees.

Kissane said a review of fees, which have remained unchanged since 2004, was a priority for the IFCO.

Seán McCárthaigh
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