UAE sees box office slump

'Avatar effect' blamed for attendance decline in UAE cinemas

The number of UAE cinema admissions in the first four months of this year has fallen by six percent compared with 2010, industry data showed.

As many as 3,770,000 people went to the cinema between January and April last year, compared with just 3,515,000 movie-goers during the same period this year – a fall of 255,000.

Movie promoters say this is no reflection of a worsening cinema industry, but claim figures were heavily impacted by the release of the award-winning movie Avatar.

The smash hit, which broke several box office records and became the highest grossing film of all time in the US, drew in 635,633 admissions in the UAE, more than any other film on record.

“From the figures it might look like admissions are decreasing but actually they are not,” said John Chahine from movie marketing company Italia Film.

“Avatar was a world and UAE-record which opened at the end of 2009 and accumulated 60 percent of admissions in beginning of 2010.”

In the first quarter of 2011, there were no blockbusters until the release of Thor in April, which netted 161,475 admissions.

This was followed by Fast 5, the most popular film of the year with 295,326 admissions; a figure likely to be surpassed this month with the release of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film. “Every week between now and the end of July we have a new blockbuster movie so the second quarter will one hundred per cent make up for the first and we will bypass 2010,” he added.

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