Cinema veterans the Anderson family are to invest €9m in a new 12-screen cinema that will be built on top of the St Stephen's Green shopping centre in Dublin city centre.
It follows the recent opening by the family of a cinema on top of the Swan shopping centre in Rathmines and comes 25 years after they sold the old St Stephen's Green cinema to the Slazenger family, who assembled the site for the shopping centre. It will be the first cineplex on the southside of Dublin city centre.
"We have signed an exclusivity agreement with the landlords and are currently compiling plans for a 12-screen cinema on the top deck of the car park," Paul Anderson of the family's Omniplex Holdings told the Sunday Tribune.
"It's not an easy build. Everything will have to be craned into the site, but we had the same problems in Rathmines," he added.
Despite the projected success of films such as Up in the Air, starring George Clooney, Anderson said the cinema market in general is "lousy" but that it "has survived better and will stand up better in recessions".
"Cinema has held up reasonably well but there's no business that hasn't been affected by this economy," he said.
The new cinema deal has been under discussion between the Andersons and the owners of the centre for nine months and they are hoping to apply for planning permission by the end of February. Anderson said most of the structure will be built off-site in panels and then assembled on-site, making construction relatively quick, and they hope to open in the middle of next year.
Anderson said they would be using lightweight structures and the existing centre could take the extra capacity, meaning structural supports would not be needed.
He believes the cinema could the first phase in a regeneration of the entire St Stephen's Green shopping centre by landlords Irish Life and property investor Pierce Maloney, who owns the Bus Stop chain of newsagents.