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Greece’s first artplex? November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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When the Attica cinema closed, long before its demolition last month, rumor had it that the next big thing was coming. An entrepreneur was looking seriously at turning the cinema on Amerikis Square into the first artplex in Greece.

The plan never came to fruition but the idea of a creating a multiplex that would show art films and other non-mainstream works interested many people.

One of them is Leonidas Papageorgiou, owner of the Trianon and Ilion Cinema, in what was once the flourishing cinema market on Patission Street. He himself never planned to do so, but he did give us a piece of information. “You can smell something in the air,” he said, “nothing more.”

Might Amerikis Square be the starting point? “I don’t think so,” said Papageorgiou. “You must put an artplex in the center of town, and Amerikis Square has not been the center of town for many years. Or in a less central area which has easy access, meaning a metro station.”

There are few plots available downtown. Gazi would meet Papageorgiou’s requirements. The new Film Library is being built on Iera Odos in the same neighborhood, and the people who visit Gazi and nearby Metaxourgeio are potential artplex customers. All that is needed now is an entrepreneur who is willing to take a risk, and a little luck.

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Have Greek film multiplexes hit a ticket ceiling? November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Ten years since the first one opened in Athens

Who would have thought it? Just 10 years since the first cinema multiplex opened in Athens, the historic center in Maroussi has shut down. It is to be made into an office block.

The influx of multiplexes into the Greek market in 1997 signaled a dramatic change on the local scene. In Athens alone, there were 99 new cinema auditoriums; box office receipts more than doubled and brought a night out at the cinema back into fashion. Large towns without film houses suddenly acquired modern multiplexes and access to one of the basic expressions of popular culture.

A small market for the size of the population > The majority of cinemagoers prefer multiplexes, so the crisis affects individual movie houses. Multiplexes are often blamed but it is they that have doubled the number of tickets sold in recent years.

There are many reasons why the original Athenian Village cinema closed down. For instance, it was too close to its larger brother at The Mall. The vigorous development of multiplexes in a virgin market such as that of Greece seems to have come to the end of a stage. None of the three major companies that run multiplexes in Greece, Village Roadshow, Odeon, Ster Cinemas, wants to talk of market saturation but recent examples make it safe to conclude that, despite the addition of new cinema houses, ticket sales have remained worryingly stable.

This is not very good news for a market that is disproportionately small for the size of the population. On average, Greeks go to the cinema slightly more than once a year, compared with three times for the French and four for Americans.

“Demand remains stable, stable at low levels,” explained Odeon Cineplex’s Manager Makis Diamantopoulos. “The market is moving upward, but very slowly, and it concerns mainly Athens, to a lesser extent Thessaloniki, and even less towns in the provinces.”

This is no reason not to celebrate their 10th birthday. Haris Antonopoulos, President and Managing Director of the Village Roadshow group, talked of expectations that have been met: “We have every reason to feel justified. When Village came into the Greek market, ticket sales were at 6-7 million; since then they have doubled to 14 million.”

Yet the market seems to be stuck at 13-14 million tickets and one reason is the lack of many lucrative blockbusters. Antonopoulos wants his company to turn to producing Greek films, at a time when local productions in other European countries bring in 30-40 percent of box office receipts. In Greece, the percentage is far lower, at 5-10 percent.

But stagnation in the Greek market does not mean stagnation when it comes to investment. In Athens, which has supposedly reached saturation point, the market will continue to grow. Village will definitely be at a mall being built on Vouliagmenis Avenue next to the Aghios Dimitrios metro station, and there will be multiplexes in large new malls in Galatsi and Votanikos, next to the planned Panathenaikos stadium. There is also room for development in the southern suburbs, which so far only have the Village complex in Faliron.

Both large and small players in the multiplex market face an insidious rival: the Internet. Being able to download movies from the Internet, often well before their release date at the cinema, would seem to affect all movie houses. Does the fact that viewers aged 12-24, the prime customers of cinemas, multiplexes and others, are more familiar with the Internet make matters worse?

“It depends on how you see ‘going to the cinema,’” commented Diamantopoulos. “If you restrict it to the strictly functional dimension, yes, the Internet is directly competitive. But we don’t go to the cinema just to see a film. There’s a whole social context to it. There’s the before and after, sharing the experience, a whole process is involved in going to the cinema.” He is optimistic.

He thinks there’s a bit of a slump but that it will be absorbed and the market will reach a balance. He cites the example of America: “In the United States, there has been a distinct fall in cinema attendance in recent years, but that was mainly due to very well-organized cable and pay TV. Now that those new products have been absorbed, the public is returning to movies.” And Antonopoulos noted a Greek characteristic: “Regardless of age, Greeks don’t like staying at home.”

An artist and his city > Bruce Davidson’s photos of New York November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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A photograph from the “Subway” collection, is currently exhibited at the Hellenic American Union.

Continuity and change. These are two virtues that define the work of 74-year-old photographer Bruce Davidson. A tribute to the celebrated American artist and senior Magnum photographer is currently taking place at the Hellenic American Union, featuring a selection of 80 photographs.

Since the early 1950s, Davidson has been capturing subjects of his own choice. While his prime focus has always been on the human factor, he has veered away from a straightforward, emotional and humanitarian approach. Looking at his work, viewers can sense that the photographer develops his own relationship with his subjects, essentially becoming part of the story, not just an outside observer.

Choosing among the numerous and major periods of his work, and in agreement with the photographer himself, the exhibition’s curators Platon Rivellis and Elisavet Plessa selected the following three projects: “Brooklyn Gang”, a collection of photographs from the late 1950s to the early 1960s; “Subway”, a series of images shot in the mid-1980s; and “Central Park”, a project that kicked off halfway through the 1990s.

All three themes focus on the city of New York, the photographer’s home. In the first part of the exhibition, the camera follows a group of friends living in working-class Brooklyn. In the second part, Davidson takes a look at life on the city’s subway, while the last collection of works takes visitors on a tour of New York’s Central Park.

Hellenic American Union, 22 Massalias Street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3680000. Nearest metro station “Panepistimio”.

Greece offers new experience for the creative class in tourism November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday inaugurated the Greek National Tourism Organization’s pavilion in London’s World Trade Market.

He said Greece is targeting in particular the so-called creative class, that is the 10 percent of tourists who seek new, genuine experiences, and aims to become established among the top destinations worldwide. This year’s promotion campaign is titled ‘Greece, the New Experience.’

Separately, the Panhellenic Hoteliers’ Association said it is promoting the conversion of hundreds of small hotels into luxury boutique units.

Related Links > www.visitgreece.gr

Striker Angelos Charisteas to miss campaign’s end November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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Rehhagel drops Charisteas from Greece squad for remaining Euro 2008 qualifiers

Otto Rehhagel and players following Greece’s win against Turkey in Istanbul last month that secured the National Team its Euro 2008 finals berth with two rounds of qualifying action remaining. Naming his squad yesterday, Rehhagel invited Panathinaikos striker Vangelis Mantzios, who shone in Sunday’s Athens derby against AEK.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has dropped striker Angelos Charisteas from his squad for the National Team’s two remaining Euro 2008 qualifiers, this Saturday against Malta in Athens, followed by the campaign’s finale in Hungary on November 21.

Already through to the finals, to be co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland next summer, Rehhagel’s team needs just one more point from its two remaining qualifiers to secure top spot in Group C. The accomplishment will not give Greece an additional advantage in the draw to determine the tournament’s groups, but nevertheless offers some prestige.

As the defending Champions, Greece will be placed in Pot A with all the tournament’s top seeds, meaning that it will avoid the powerhouse teams, at least theoretically, in the competition’s first stage. With Greece already through to the finals, the main focus in Group C is whether Norway or Turkey will secure the group’s other qualifying berth. They clash in Norway this Saturday with the home team holding a two-point lead over Turkey.

With 10 of 12 games played, Greece is on 25 points, Norway on 20 and Turkey on 18. The group’s remaining four sides are out of contention for a finals berth. Despite Greece’s certainty of a place at the Euro 2008 finals, Rehhagel has resisted the temptation to experiment with new players, except for Panathinaikos striker Vangelis Mantzios.

The Greek Soccer Federation is planning pre-game festivities for this coming Saturday’s game against Malta, the National Team’s last home match in this successful qualifying campaign.

Greek Coke bottler to set up coffee joint venture November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Greek Coke bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) said yesterday it will form a joint venture to sell ready-to-drink coffee products, strengthening its presence in that market.

CCHBC, the world’s second-largest bottler of Coke products, said it had signed a letter of intent with the Coca-Cola Co and Italian roaster Illycafe to set up a three-way joint venture which will manufacture and sell coffee in 28 countries.

“Ready-to-drink coffee is a small but high-growth high-value category in most of our markets,” said CCHBC Managing Director Doros Constantinou in a statement. “This joint venture will further strengthen our premium product offering and will allow us to maximize its potential.”

The Coca-Cola Co and Illycaffe agreed to form a global joint venture last month. Negotiations on the joint-venture business model are expected to conclude early next year and are subject to regulatory approval, CCHBC said.

CCHBC is already offering ready-to-drink coffee under the Nescafe brand but it might look to discontinue the business after Nestle and the Coca-Cola Co agreed to stop making coffee earlier in the year.

OTE goes for full control of Cosmote November 13, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Telecoms.
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Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) SA, Greece’s biggest phone company, gained the most in almost two months in Athens trading after it bid 2.8 billion euros ($4.1 billion) in cash to buy the shares it doesn’t already own in its unit Cosmote Mobile Telecommunications SA.

OTE shares gained 1, or 4 percent, to 26, the biggest one-day gain since September 14. Cosmote shares gained 1.24, or 4.96 percent, to 26.24, the highest level since the stock began trading in 2000. The Athens-based company said it would pay 26.25 each for 107.7 million Cosmote shares, according to a bourse filing late on November 9. OTE already owns 67.8 percent of Cosmote, its most profitable unit.

Buying the Cosmote stake will give OTE access to all of the unit’s dividends and cash, as well as faster-growing sales and earnings from divisions in Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria. Cosmote, with 14 million customers in five countries, is one of the last mobile units of Europe’s former telecommunications monopolies to be publicly traded.

“Although the debt-financed nature of the offer will have a slightly negative impact on OTE’s financial ratios in the short term, it will strengthen the group’s position in the medium to long term,” Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday in a statement. The ratings service affirmed its Baa1 rating on OTE and said the outlook on all ratings “remains stable.”

OTE was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by Natasha Roumantzi, an analyst at Piraeus Securities. The buyout will increase per-share earnings for OTE by an average of 8 percent next year and in 2009, and give the company a bigger part of Cosmote’s growth, Roumantzi wrote. The price estimate for OTE shares was raised to 28.10 from 25.60.