The Euros 13m redevelopment by UGC of its nine-screen Parnell Centre site in Dublin city centre will conclude at the end of November, making it Ireland's biggest cinema according to the company.
The Dublin site recorded more than one million paid admissions last year and, according to UGC, "is already set to increase these figures for 2003." UGC Dublin is widely believed in the trade to be the most profitable of the company's sites in the UK and Ireland.
The first phase of the redevelopment, incorporating seven new screens along with the refurbishment of two of the existing nine screens, will be completed in September. This phase will also include a new box office area and other facilities including a new cafe bar, a concessions area and a kids' party room, in addition to two new entrances.
Allowing the cinema to remain open, the second phase of the redevelopment will commence on the opening of phase one. It will involve the building of one new screen and the refurbishment of the remaining seven screens.
The expansion makes use of vacant space on three levels, including a former IMAX theatre operated by the Sheridan Group that closed in October 2000 and has been empty ever since. The auditoria will range in capacity from 90 to 400 seats, giving a total capacity across the seventeen screens of about 4,000. All screens will be of the '4th wall' type covering the ceiling-to-floor and wall-to-wall area.
The expansion has been broadly welcomed within the local distribution trade which believes that Dublin city centre has been under-screened for some time.
The greater Dublin area already has an annual per capita cinema admissions rate of nearly twice the national average (4.4), itself the second highest in Europe, after Iceland.