Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry. / Irish Film Board (IFB), the national development agency for the Irish film, television and animation industry, today published details of all IFB supported productions coming to audiences in 2016 and detailed its priorities and ambitions for the year ahead.
In a year which has seen IFB supported projects experience unprecedented success in terms of international critical acclaim and audience engagement, IFB Acting Chair, Dr. Annie Doona outlined the need to restore funding levels to ensure that momentum can be maintained.
Audiences around the globe engaged with Irish stories in film this year. Impressive international sales and box office figures were experienced across the board with Irish films estimated to have taken approximately US$52 million at the international box office.
The overall figures for the industry show that high production levels continued through 2016 with production activity for the independent film, television drama and animation sector coming in at just under €200 million.* The Irish film sector employs some 6,000 FTE in Ireland and is estimated to be worth in excess of half a billion in turnover annually.
Unprecedented Recognition and Audience Engagement – Building Cultural Impact through Global Audience Engagement
Described by the IFB as a ‘watershed moment’ for the sector, highlights of the last year include a fantastic profile at last Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards with six nominations for Irish films and talent; Brie Larson winning the Best Actress Award for the Irish production Room; the Special Jury Prize for Jack Reynor in the Sundance Film Festival; the Jury Prize for The Lobster at the Cannes Film Festival; the Audience Prize for Room for the Best Feature Film in the Toronto International Film Festival and a slew of other international awards for Irish directors, producers, scriptwriters and actors – not least Saoirse Ronan who won a number of best actress awards and nominations for her role in Brooklyn – at the Moet British Independent Film Awards, New York Film Critics Circle Award, and a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination.
A record seven Irish films have been selected for the Sundance Film Festival which opens in Utah, USA on January 21st.
International recognition for Ireland as both a filming and tourist destination has also spiralled as a result of Skellig Michael being featured in the closing scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the world’s highest grossing film on record.
International Audiences Engaging with Irish Stories on Film
Record international sales and box office figures were experienced across the board with Irish films estimated to have taken approximately US$52 million at the international box office.
- Brooklyn, The Lobster, Song of the Sea, Room, and Two by Two – Ooops… The Ark is Gone have sold every single territory around the world.
- Brooklyn sold to Fox Searchlight at Sundance for remaining territories for US$ 9 million – the biggest sale in Sundance in 2015. It has gone on to gross more than US$28 million worldwide (€6.4 million at the Irish/UK Box Office).
- The Lobster has grossed more than €1.9 million at the Irish/UK Box Office and has secured release in multiple territories.
- Room has taken $4.9 million at the US box office to date and will be released on this Friday (January 15) in Ireland and the UK.
- Song of the Sea has taken $3.8 million worldwide to date and has just secured a theatrical release in China under the very competitive Chinese quota system.
- Two by Two – Ooops… The Ark is Gone has taken almost US$5.7 million worldwide to date
- Older than Ireland took over €160k at the Irish box office. The Queen of Ireland enjoyed the largest-ever opening weekend for an Irish documentary, and went on to take almost €112,129 at the box office to date.
- Being AP took over €69,000 on its opening weekend in Ireland and the UK and took the top spot on the iTunes film charts days after its release on home media following positive reviews from critics.
Academy Awards Breakthrough
Viva has been shortlisted in the Foreign Language Award category of the upcoming 88th Academy Awards, and both Room and Brooklyn are both hotly tipped to be included in the Award nominations which will be announced tomorrow (Thursday, January 14th). Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea was also nominated in the Best Animated Feature Film category of last year’s Academy Awards, demonstrating the growing strength of the animation sector here. (This was Cartoon Saloon’s second time to be nominated in the Academy Awards).
This global critical acclaim and audience engagement is also matched at home with extraordinary acclaim in Ireland for documentaries Older than Ireland and Queen of Ireland, which opened to the largest Irish box office for a documentary.
Sustaining Progress and Uncompromising Ambition to Remain a World Class Player
Each of these projects are driven by Irish talent supported over the years by the Bord Scannán na hÉireann / Irish Film Board through the funding it provides for project development and production finance. The cultural and economic impact of this success and global audience engagement is immeasurable. To build on this success and to ensure that Ireland’s reputation as a centre of creative and technical excellence continues to grow internationally, there is a urgent need to address funding levels.
[quote title=”Dr Annie Doona – Acting Chair of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board”]The Irish film sector is enjoying unprecedented success. Irish film talent is making a significant global impact on the international stage and we are uncompromisingly ambitious to build on this success. The deserved international recognition and success of Irish stories on film will have a very positive knock-on benefit for Ireland, Irish culture and the Irish economy as a whole. However, the projects that are enjoying international acclaim today have been in the pipeline for a number of years. In five years’ time we won’t have the same level of success unless funding for the sector is restored to previous levels. Funding is down 40 % from 2008 and needs to be restored in order for the sector to fully realise its economic and cultural potential.[/quote]
[quote title=”James Hickey – Chief Executive of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board”]Audiences will get to experience a wide range of productions in 2016. Irish talent is continuing to excel in all fields – from directing and creative producing, to writing, to visual effects and to acting. The Irish Film Board strategy of supporting and developing talent is reaping rewards, with Lenny Abrahamson just one example of how support at the early stage of someone’s career can lead to greater things. Our Skills Strategy is focused on addressing gaps in the market and enhancing the skill level of those already employed. We believe that this approach, together with the IFB Five Year strategy which will be published later this year, will help the sector to go from strength to strength. We also recently announced a six point plan around gender equality which we are now implementing.. Irish film talent are receiving recognition on the international stage and are justifiably competing with the cream of the crop – with unparalleled success. The sense of pride in this achievement amongst the industry and the wider public is palpable. Our ambition and opportunity is to solidify our current position as a world class player and to build on that in the years ahead.[/quote]