Dublin's 370-seat IMAX cinema, operated by the Belfast-based Sheridan Group, was closed down at short notice on Sunday (October 8).

The large-format cinema in Dublin's city centre opened June 4, 1998 with what was then claimed to be the biggest cinema screen in Europe. It forms part of a linear on-street complex called the Parnell Centre which houses several restaurants, leisure facilities and a thriving UGC multiplex.

When first opened, the Sheridan IMAX cinema was perceived as a marginally viable enterprise by the Dublin film trade due to its location and lack of synergy with other quality entertainment outlets. Its only real success was the large-format release of Disney's Fantasia 2000, which grossed IR£286,000 during a 16-week run in spring this year. Ironically, its closure came just as IMAX International's latest release, Cyberworld, was being publicised in Dublin.

A spokesman for UGC's UK headquarters has refused to confirm or deny rumours that UGC has already agreed a deal with Sheridan to purchase the IMAX site. Such a move would enable the company to significantly expand its nine-screen Parnell Centre multiplex, already its top performing site in the UK and Ireland. It would also allow UGC to pre-empt rival UCI which is believed to be planning a new European flagship 15-screen complex just a few minutes' walking distance away on Dublin's main street.

Staff were given little more than 24 hours notice of the Sheridan IMAX's closure, leading to an industrial dispute which has since been resolved.