CULTURE

Euro on the entertainment stage

The first euros made their timid appearance at theater and cinema box offices in Athens over the New Year’s holiday. Athenians were a little hesitant at first about using the new currency, but a new trend quickly emerged. Most chose to pay for their tickets with euros, even if it involved some delay. Luckily the process was completed without irritation, since both the audience and the cashiers shared a feeling of unfamiliarity and seemed to find the whole business entertaining. A cashier at a cinema in central Athens describes what happened: «On Tuesday, the first day the new currency went into circulation, very few people paid in euros. But on Wednesday the picture was completely different, at least at the evening screenings. Half the audience paid euro and the other half in drachmas.» As for price adjustments, there were different trends, with some owners rounding prices up, others rounding them down, and others translating the drachma price exactly into euros. The last option seems the fairest, but is bound not to last very long because it is exceedingly impractical. Many people would rather pay a round 20 euros than the exact 19.67 euros. Kathimerini visited theaters and cinemas in Athens to see what prices they were charging, starting with the three most popular theaters. The Lambeti (where «Dinner with Friends» with Grigoris Valtinos is being staged) chose to round prices down a little. A seat in the stalls was 20.50 euros (6,985 drs), compared with 7,000 drs, as it had been until the end of 2001. Students did the best out of the changeover, getting a 70-drachma discount. A student ticket now costs 13 euros (4,429 drs), against the previous price of 4,500 drs. The Katerina Valakou Theater (where Georgios Michalopoulos is performing «The Caretaker») also rounded prices in the customers’ favor. A standard ticket is 18 euros (6,133 drs), down from 6,200 drs, while a student ticket is just 12 euros (4,089 drs), compared with 4,200 in the pre-euro era. The National Theater did likewise, with a standard ticket of 17.5 euros (5,963 drs), down from 6,000 drs. By contrast, the Dimitris Horn Theater (where Stamatis Fasoulis is appearing in «Three Rainy Days») translated their ticket prices exactly from drachmas into euros. So the 6,500-drachma stall seat cost 19.08 euros and a 5,500 gallery seat 16.14 euros. The most expensive theater ticket is at Mimi Denisi’s Theater, costing 21 euros (7,155 drs). The cinemas Kathimerini visited rounded their prices up. The Village group now charges seven euros for a ticket (2,385 drs), compared with the previous 2,300 drs. This might be one reason why customers at multiplex cinemas preferred to buy their tickets in drachmas. At Danaos the price went up 48 drachmas to 6.60 euros (to 2,248 drs from 2,200). Direct comparisons Comparisons with prices abroad are much easier in the euro era. Oddly enough, Greek cinema tickets are not among the cheapest in Europe. The average ticket in Athens costs 6.60 euros, compared with 5.53 in Spain and an average of 5.90 (2,010 drs) in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Prices are higher in France (8.38 euros) and Germany (7.65 euros). Greek theaters are cheaper, however: A ticket for a performance at the French National Theater costs 25 euros, compared with 17.5 at the Greek National Theater.