Novo Cinemas operates 13 locations in the UAE and one in Jordan. It will be adding three new Imax screens to its Dubai portfolio, including at the IMG Worlds of Adventure development. Image Credit: Courtesy: Novo Cinemas/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The big screen continues to rule when it comes to pulling in UAE residents for their dose of wholesome entertainment laced with munching on the popcorn.

Estimates suggest that a quite substantial 14.12 million tickets were sold at cinemas in the UAE through last year, resulting in gross box-office receipts of $161.63 million (Dh593.69 million), easily overwhelming the $148.39 million recorded a year earlier.

Clearly, viewers still want to catch up on the latest Hollywood superhero flick or romance- and action-saturated 120-minute Bollywood extravaganzas up on the silver screen. This, despite all the competition coming by way of any number of screen sizes mounted on a smartphone, a tablet, a notebook or on TV. (The estimates are based on ticket rates just a shade over $11 in both 2013 and 2014. The next two regional markets in terms of collections were Kuwait ($51.58 million in 2014) and Lebanon ($31.36 million).)

The expectations for this year are for another blockbuster year — how can it be otherwise with the Avengers: Age of Ultron upon us already, next comes Jurassic World and Spectre — the latest James Bond instalment swooping in for a November release date.

All of these are reasons enough for the local cinema chains to go in for maximum exposure in terms of locations where possible.

“The UAE is a mature market compared to the rest of the region ... but there is still growth,” said Jaber Al Ansari, Managing Director of Novo Cinemas and Group CEO of ELAN. “If you know your business you can find untapped potential.”

And where possible, newfangled technology is also helping multiplex owners roll out the red carpet and much more. “Patrons in this part of the world expect the best technology and customer service, and with IMAX and 7-Star experience, that’s what we are providing,” said Al Ansari.

Novo will be adding three new IMAX screens to its Dubai portfolio, including at the IMG Worlds of Adventure development, located off Mohammad Bin Zayed Road. The development will also feature the Lost Valley — Dinosaur Adventure theme park and another featuring the Marvel clan. The developer — Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group — are projecting 20,000 visitors a day coming in for the multiple attractions.

“As the world’s largest indoor theme park, IMG Worlds of Adventure offers a welcome change from the typical venue,” said Al Ansari. “It also aligns with our vision to take Novo Cinemas offering to the next level by highlighting our venues as entertainment and event hubs. We like to say that a great movie is just the beginning.

“We have seen an uptake in corporate bookings from airlines, finance sector, telecoms industry and across the board. This falls in line with our plans for a wider offering. We are introducing alternative content, such as the recent Mayweather/Paquiao fight. We screened the fight live across six locations and the turnout was phenomenal.

“Back in January, (we) hosted Liam Neeson at an exclusive red carpet event for the premiere of Taken 3, also a success. This is only the beginning.”