Open-air cinemas: Blockbusters alfresco

By Panayiotis Panagopoulos

A rarity on the global map of movie theaters, open-air cinemas are still very popular in Greece, even though they are not always up to speed in terms of state-of-the-art sound technology.

What they do offer, however, is a pretty special experience, prompting CNN International to place the Thission cinema, located in a super setting on the pedestrianized Apostolou Pavlou Street, at the top of its list of the world's best movie theaters -- and the view of the nearby Acropolis is a huge added plus.

In any case, if the idea of collective viewing in a cool open-air space doesn't move you, perhaps the fact that you can kick back with an ice-cold beer, nachos and a table to prop them on might.

So far this spring-summer season, open-air movie theaters have been screening films which proved popular with local audiences in the last few months. These include Michel Hazanavicius's «Artist,» Asghar Farhadi's «Separation,» Robert Guediguian's «Snows of Kilimanjaro,» and Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's «Intouchables,» among others. This summer's international blockbusters, however, are also on their way.

Starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Sonnenfeld's «Men in Black III» was released on May 24, a decade after the previous sequel, while Rupert Sanders's «Snow White and the Huntsman,» featuring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, opens on May 31. Theron is a prominent fixture this season, as she also stars alongside Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce in Ridley Scott's «Prometheus.»The film, which opens on May 31, is a science-fiction thriller closely related to the director's «Alien» series.

The silver-screen adaptation of Broadway hit «Rock of Ages» will be released in July. Starring Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Paul Giamatti, the film traces the story of two Hollywood hopefuls in the 1980s and is jam-packed with the era's landmark music hits.

Superheroes are also making a comeback, with Marc Webb's «Amazing Spider-Man» hitting screens in early July -- the film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans -- while Christopher Nolan's «Dark Knight Rises» concludes the director's Batman trilogy and is scheduled for release on August 23.

In the romcom category, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star as a couple trying to find time to tie the knot in Nicholas Stoller's «Five Year Engagement,» which will be released on June 28. As for this summer's hit comedy, look out for Sacha Baron Cohen's «Dictator,»in which the British director/actor/stand-up comedian takes on the role of an outrageous, fictional Middle Eastern dictator.