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300 > Victorious around the World March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life.
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300 marched to the top of the foreign box office, generating $15.9 million from 13 markets over the weekend for a $25.2 million total.

The digital battle picture continued to dominate Greece, down a mere 11 percent from its record-breaking opening. Its $2.7 million weekend from 112 prints was easily the largest second weekend ever, and its $7.2 million total doubles Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest’s tally at the same point.

Though not nearly as potent as Greece, 300’s other markets were impressive. It opened in eight markets, including South Korea’s sizable $6.4 million from 231 prints, which was slightly better than Troy. Other strong performances came from Thailand ($930,000 from 87 screens), Hong Kong ($771,000 from 33), India ($613,000 from 141) and Puerto Rico ($574,000 from 55). In Turkey, 300 also recorded the market’s largest start ever for an 18-rated picture, posting $1.5 million from 112 prints. Next weekend, 300 invades France, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

In second place internationally, Music and Lyrics made $9.6 million from 45 markets for a $57.2 million total. The romantic comedy had a nice start in France, grossing $2.1 million and topping Two Weeks Notice and Something’s Gotta Give. Music’s next major market will be Russia on April 12.

Norbit nabbed third place with an estimated $8.6 million from 33 territories and a $31 million total. The U.K. was its top market with a first place $2.1 million for a $6.9 million total through its second weekend. The fat-suit comedy had two notable launches in Spain ($1.1 million from 234 screens) and the Netherlands (first-place $727,415 from 54 screens).

Ghost Rider grossed $7.3 million over the weekend for an $87.2 million total. In six new markets, it was helped by being the only action movie, including Italy ($1.7 million from 304 screens). Other positive starts were Argentina’s $205,194 and Sweden’s $217,172. Up against 300 in Hong Kong, however, sent Ghost Rider spiraling down 64 percent to a weak $165,571 in its second weekend.

Hot Fuzz made its first trip outside of the U.K. In Australia, the comedy debuted below Wild Hogs with $1.3 million from 186 screens, which was higher than the lifetime gross of Shaun of the Dead ($1.2 million). Hot Fuzz was second in New Zealand as well with a $194,905 start. Its overall weekend was $2.9 million for a $39 million total.

Night at the Museum ended its overseas campaign in Japan, debuting to a stellar $5.1 million from 575 screens. The family comedy led Japan and bested the past openings of Letters from Iwo Jima by 19 percent and the comparable National Treasure by 46 percent. Overall, Night grabbed $6.7 million for a $288.1 million total.

Japan was also the final market for Happy Feet. The computer-animated comedy logged an impressive $2.1 million from 499 screens. However, with $175 million in the till internationally, the opening suggests that it will never cross the $200 million mark, making it the fifth animated feature from this past year to have an overseas gross lower than domestic.

Also opening in Japan was Deja Vu, which made a disappointing $1.5 million from 300 screens. The time travel thriller will close its foreign run in China this week and has grossed $108 million thus far.

The Devil Wears Prada inched past the $200 million mark overseas. The comedy’s late $1.7 million run in China was the deciding factor.

Stomp the Yard entered its first major markets and the results were mixed. The dance drama looked good in Singapore with a second-place $216,720 debut from 21 screens but was ugly in the U.K. with a tenth-ranked $375,466 from 150 screens. Overall, the picture has $734,025.

Launching in the U.K. simultaneously with its domestic release, Premonition conjured $1.9 million, which, like domestic, was neither remarkable nor disappointing.


PWA Athens Windsurfing Indoor 2007 March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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The latest premium addition to this landmark season is the inclusion of a glittering new indoor contest in Athens, Greece.

Spanning the weekend of 21st and 22nd April, the spectacle is to be housed at the waterside Peace and Friendship Stadium, which hosted many preliminaries and finals during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and is one of Greece’s top entertainment and sporting venues.

Capable of seating around 14,000 people, the arenas unique internal layout guarantees spectators will see all the action close up and personal.

The NESCAFÉ sponsored contest will offer a monstrous €50,000 prize purse for which both men and women will fight tooth and nail for their share through the three disciplines of jump, freestyle and slalom.

With a bounty at stake, and pride on the line, there’s no doubt that all the best racers, jump performers and freestylers will be lured into electrifying the crowds of Piraeus, the epicenter of maritime Greece, the Mediterranean and beyond.

Get set to follow every stroke of action, minute by minute at www.pwaworldtour.com with our live event ticker, daily news summaries, photo galleries, videos and more.

For further information please contact the PWA office via info@pwaworldtour.com

Greece prepares to welcome back home ancient treasures March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Getty carefully packs funerary wreath for trip back home to Greece

Fourteen years after the J. Paul Getty Museum purchased a 4th century BC Greek funerary wreath for $1.15 million from a Swiss art dealer, 17 months after the Greek government formally demanded its return and eight months after the museum agreed to do so, the delicate gold headpiece is about to go home.

Packed in a box within a box within a box and set to travel under tight security, it’s scheduled to arrive in Athens on Friday and go on view at the National Archaeological Museum five days later, Greek Culture Minister Georgios Voulgarakis has announced.

The wreath is a wonder of artistry, made of gold foil with tiny blue and green glass inlays. Its profusion of realistic flowers and leaves is patterned after bellflowers, myrtle, apple and pear blossoms and attached to a slender gold headband. Probably worn on ceremonial occasions, it is thought to have been buried with the cremated remains of its owner in northern Greece.

Despite its small size, about 11 1/4 inches in diameter, the wreath is such a dazzler that it landed on the cover of the museum’s “Handbook of the Antiquities Collection,” published in anticipation of the 2006 reopening of the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.

Swept up in an international effort to sort out the rightful ownership of artworks removed from their homelands, the wreath has been taken out of its showcase at the Villa. It is intricately packed in an open crate that’s parked on a rolling cart in “the cage,” a subterranean, fortress-like facility used for packing, shipping and temporary storage at the Villa.

The Getty is one of several museums accused by the Italian and Greek governments of having looted antiquities in their collections. The Los Angeles institution has admitted no willful wrongdoing but has returned several objects to their countries of origin.

Citing security concerns and insurance regulations, Getty officials decline to detail transit plans for the wreath and its traveling companion, a marble statue of a young woman, or kore, which also has been on display at the Villa and is being returned to Greece after lengthy negotiations. But a team of specialists explains the labor-intensive process of preparing the wreath for its journey.

Traveling artworks from Getty collections are usually accompanied by Getty couriers. In this case, the couriers are from Greece.

Francophone films take leading role March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Annual festivals to take place in Athens and Thessaloniki

The often painful and invariably dramatic life of Edith Piaf opens the 8th Francophone Film Festival at the Attikon cinema this Thursday.

Directed by Olivier Dahan and starring Marion Cotillard, Gerard Depardieu and Sylvie Testud, the film, which also acted as curtain raiser at the Berlin Film Festival, opens the annual event which this year is set to present no fewer than 76 films in Athens, at the Apollon and Attikon cinemas as well as the French Institute in Athens until April 1, and Thessaloniki at the Olympion, March 26 – April 4.

The event, which is held under the aegis of the City of Athens, is organized by Francophone Embassies in Athens, Unifrance, the organization for the promotion of French cinema worldwide, the French Institutes of Athens and Thessaloniki and Emporiki Bank.

Besides the basic core of 40 Francophone films, all produced during the 2006-2007 period, the festival is adding more sections, including a collaboration with Premiere Nights for a series of after-hours screenings destined for a younger crop of cinema-goers. In this part of the festival, films include “No Body Is Perfect,” a documentary by Swiss filmmaker Raphael Sibilla focusing on body transformations and sadomasochism, as well as the presence of HPG, a well-known porn star-turned-director who will come to Athens for the screening of “On ne devrait pas exister” (We Should Not Exist).

The festival features four major tributes, to French animation, the nouvelle vague of contemporary Romanian cinema, French comedian Pierre Richard and producer Jacques Perrin. The latter, principally known as an actor and director, will be honored in Athens at the festival’s opening.

Another well-known man of French film, Claude Brasseur, will also make the trip to Athens, along with a long list of directors and actors who will accompany the films during the festival. Among them are actors Nathalie Baye, marking her second appearance at the festival, Emilie Dequenne, Franck Dubosc and Julie Depardieu as well as directors Catherine Corsini, Frederic Schoendoerffer, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.

Over the last 15 years, French governments have ferociously promoted local film production in other countries. Judging from the figures, it seems that the policy is working: In 2006 alone, about 60 million people around the world watched French films outside of their country of origin, with ticket sales reaching 322 million euros, impressive figures which resemble similar records set in 2002 and 2005. All in all, 298 French films were screened around the world, 24 fewer than the previous year.

At a press conference that took place last week, it emerged that France’s efforts are concentrating on developing a more commercial profile for its film industry. This is a sector willing to compete against industry giant Hollywood, while trying to get rid of the “artistic” label often applied to some French films destined to more cinephile audiences.

“This year’s event brings a gust of fresh air and hopes to prove that French cinema is neither boring nor some kind of brain twister, but the kind of cinema based on action, movement and an upbeat mood,” said Lannig Stervinou, the festival’s artistic director, at the press conference.

A variety of French films are scheduled for screening during the festival, including comedies “Camping” directed by Fabien Onteniente and starring Gerard Lanvin and Mathilde Seigner and “Prete-moi ta main” directed by Eric Lartigau and starring Alain Chabat and Charlotte Gainsbourg, thrillers such as “Ne le dis a personne” directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Francois Cluzet, action such as “Truands” directed by Frederic Schoendoerffer and starring Benoit Magimel and Beatrice Dalle, as well as historical subject matter such as “Moliere” directed by Laurent Tirard and starring Romain Duris and Fabrice Luchini.

Also on the program are films from other Francophone countries, such as Robert Favreau’s “Un Dimanche a Kigali” (Sunday at Kigali), an adaptation of the novel “Un dimanche a la piscine a Kigali,” written by Canadian journalist/author Gil Courtemanche, narrating two periods, the before and after of the Rwandan genocide.

Eighth Francophone Film Festival screenings will take place at the following venues in Athens: French Institute in Athens, 31 Sina Street, tel 210 3398600; Attikon Cinema, 19 Stadiou Street, tel 210 3228821; Apollon Cinema, 19 Stadiou Street, tel 210 3236811.

Too much concrete in the Cycladic Islands March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece.
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Myconos, Santorini, Naxos, along with smaller isles such as Sikinos and Koufonissia, have seen building boom in past 15 years

The worst-case scenario for some of the Cycladic islands, a landscape spoiled by too much construction, is apparently not far off. Myconos, Santorini and smaller islands, such as Ano Koufonissi, have almost totally been built up. Small tourist settlements with very small plots of land between them have spilled over hillsides, plains and coastlines. All efforts to restrict the urbanization of the islands have failed miserably due to loopholes in legislation and because no one has strictly enforced the law.

Experts are saying that within the next decade the Cyclades’ natural beauty will be completely spoiled and no longer the tourist attraction it was in the past. Some say the time has come for a universal ban on building outside the town-planning zones on these islands so as to save what is still left. Tourist development began on a few of the islands during the 1960s, but systematic construction did not begin until the 1980s.

A clearer picture emerged during a building census in 1990 and another in 2000 that showed the largest increase in the total number of structures was on the smaller islands, an addition of 67 percent on Sikinos, 63 percent on Donousa and 57 percent on Koufonissia. However on larger islands, such as Naxos, about 4,000 buildings had been built; even on smaller islands, such as Myconos, Santorini and Paros, up to 2,000 new buildings were constructed. Given that these figures are only up to the year 2000, the current situation is certainly far worse.

«Unfortunately on most islands, the prevailing attitude is that growth equals construction,» said Professor Dimitris Katzourakis of Patras University’s School of Architecture. «People reinvest the money they earn from renting rooms in the summer on building even more rooms. If you fly over any one of these islands you will see continual stretches of built-up area. If this ‘development’ continues, within one generation most of the Cycladic islands will be spoiled.»

The state has not done much about the situation. During the mid-1990s, when construction outside the town limits had spiraled out of control, the Environment and Public Works Ministry and the Aegean Ministry decided to establish Housing Control Zones (ZOE), to designate certain settlements as listed, and whole islands or islets as places of natural beauty.

Architect Elsa Vayianou was a member of the committee that drafted some of the legislative texts for the Aegean Ministry.

«There was no real institutional framework with specific terms for construction on each island,» she said. «Perhaps because every new restriction met with intense opposition locally, with demonstrations, threats and pressure. The locals do not realize that the natural environment has to be preserved, even if it is only to sell their tourism product at a higher price.»

On many islands, surveys were not completed or made official because of local opposition. In other cases where the surveys were made official, many of the restrictions originally provided for were not included, while others have been ignored.

«Many islands had good surveys, but since the ZOE were set up, very few have gone as far as becoming decrees,» said architect-town planner Yiannis Karanikas. «Many of them concerned the protection of just parts of islands.» «A major problem with the ZOE that have been set up is the absence of bans on construction, or else their restrictions are evaded by the architectural inspection committees and repeated revisions,» said Kriton Arsenis, head of the Hellenic Society’s Program for Sustainable Development in the Aegean. «For example, the ZOE for Myconos recently established by the Environment and Public Order Ministry has not banned housing in protection zones and has retained the use of a mathematical model that allowed construction up to 50 meters from the shore.»

«Considering the pressure brought to bear on any attempt at imposing restrictions, I believe it is not feasible to talk about a universal ban on construction outside town limits,» said Vayianou. «Nevertheless, it could be introduced gradually on certain islands, in combination with financial incentives.» Katzourakis also believes that a total ban would not be implemented. «We are now looking at a compromise between how much an island wants to be built up and how much it wants to protect its environment.» 

High-tech spending still low March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Technology.
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Greece is languishing at the wrong end of the European Union chart in per capita expenditure on technology products and services with just 783 in 2006, according to the European Information Technology Observatory (EITO).

The data from the latest EITO report show that Greeks spent much more money last year on technology commodities, e.g. information technology products or cellphone bills, but are still a long way from the EU average (1,344) and even further from Northern European countries such as Sweden (2,473) and Denmark (2,464).

The per capita gross domestic product of Greece may be much lower than that of Denmark or Sweden, but Greece was overtaken last year even by Slovenia in spending on technology.

The annual EITO report, in which European corporations participate with the cooperation of strong technology enterprises, is a point of reference for the IT and telecommunications sectors. EITO analysts forecast that this year the global IT and telecoms market will expand by about 4 percent and reach 2.1 trillion, with Europe accounting for a third of it.

In the EU the growth rate of the IT and telecoms market will be somewhat lower, at 2.9 percent in 2007, coming to 668 billion. Recent estimates suggested that the Greek market slowed down last year but in 2007 it will grow at a satisfactory rate, mainly because this is a year when most state IT projects will be realized.

The greatest growth rate in the EU is to be found in the software market (6.5 percent), followed by IT services (5.5 percent). Crucially, the hardware sector, where most Greek companies are involved, will only grow by 1.4 percent this year, according to EITO. The telecom services market will also record a modest rise, of 2.2 percent, mainly due to the intense competition that leads to charging rates going down.

Roaming expanded March 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Vodafone and TIM Hellas are expanding their pilot operation of their national roaming service, two months after the start of its application in Cephalonia, Ithaca, Kalamata and the broader area of the Messiniakos Gulf, in the southwest Peloponnese.

From today, for two months, the service is expanding to Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and to the islands of Crete, Karpathos, Kassos and Antikythera. The service allows subscribers to use the other company’s network when their own is not available.