CULTURE

Pulling out all the stops for capital’s entertainment

The capital’s seventh multiplex cinema just recently opened on Kifissias Avenue, near the Maroussi turnoff for the Attiki Odos and just a stone’s throw from the area’s Village Cinemas – the first of its kind to open in Greece. The strategic placement of the two complexes, however, is more symbolic in nature as the new venue has ushered in the most interesting season so far in the country’s history of multiplex movie theaters, offering new products and promises of changing the way the public views movies. Fierce competition between the numerous complexes around the capital have made the big players pull out all the stops and offer a slew of inviting initiatives. The new Odeon Cosmopolis is the first multiplex cinema in Greece that promises to feature art-house films as well as the inevitable blockbuster fare. The Greek-based company Odeon, archrival of Village Roadshow, aims at creating a whole new philosophy around the multiplex cinema. «We want to become identified with all that is the best of cinema, be it European, American or Greek,» says Odeon Cineplex Manager Makis Diamantopoulos. In other initiatives, Odeon’s new Cinema Park complex, due to open on Syngrou Avenue by Christmas, will operate from early in the morning with interactive activities of an educational nature aimed at children and school groups. Akin to a planetarium, it will have moving seats and simulators. Canadian i-Max technology is another new thing the capital city has to look forward to, as the Greek company International Advantage Corporation has struck a deal with the Canadian company and will be creating a large cinema in central Athens with a capacity for 350 people, a cafe and a restaurant. Films screened on i-Max are always first screenings, but there will also be three-dimensional films and educational programs shown on the large-format screen in the steep amphitheater with large, inclined seats. The luxury market has already been nabbed by Village Roadshow which, on July 15, launched the Gold Class theaters at its multiplex in Rendi. Each theater seats 40 viewers in comfortable armchairs, with tables where drinks and food are served. Though the basic ticket costs 20 euros per person, it is advisable to either book in advance or to get there well before screenings are to start. Two additional theaters of this type are also to be included in the new The Mall Athens that Village Roadshow is constructing in the area of Nerantziotissa in Maroussi, due to open by the end of fall. The complex will feature 15 movie theaters, which owners hope will attract shoppers visiting the mall, boasted as the biggest of its kind in Athens as it sprawls over a formidable expanse of 58,500 sq.m. This means that by the end of the year, the area of Maroussi will have three multiplex cinemas with a total of 38 theaters. Why did Odeon select a location that is already saturated with entertainment complexes? «The location we chose has several advantages, such as excellent visibility, because it is right on the Kifissias Avenue axis, as well as having excellent access to public transportation. Furthermore, the area more generally has developed into an entertainment hub. As far as competition is concerned, it is a very complex subject. When we chose to build on the specific plot of land, Village Cinemas was already there, but it was not right on Kifissias Avenue, plus, the mall in Nerantziotissa had been deemed illegal by the Council of State and we were under the impression that it would not be constructed after all. Now we have to see whether Maroussi will survive as a pole of attraction for people from all over the city,» says Diamantopoulos. As far as Village Roadshow is concerned, the multinational company’s management reiterated that their goal is to move into areas that have a shortage of movie theaters. One such move is planned for the Faliron Delta, right next to the Olympic tae kwon do center, on a plot of land that is just under 1 hectare in size and used to belong to the Rizareio School. The location is just right, for it is on the tram line and has ample space. It is also at the heart of a strip that houses Olympic Games venues that are to be developed over the next few years. The greatest advantage, however is that fact that from Palaio Faliron all the way to Voula, there are only 11 indoor theaters in operation and, of these, three are in Palaio Faliron and eight in Glyfada. New venues, new technology enhance Athens’s cinema scene Odeon Cosmopolis: This entertainment park at 73 Kifissias Avenue, right at the turnoff for the Attiki Odos, contains 12 luxury theaters seating a total of 2,025 viewers, with large modern screens, high-technology audio equipment and a 500-car garage. Village Cinemas – The Mall Athens: Village Roadshow’s fourth complex in Attica is being constructed inside the biggest shopping center in Athens (The Mall Athens by Lambda Olympia Village, Latsis Group). It is due to open in Maroussi in November, right next to the Nerantziotissa urban electric railway station. The cineplex will have 15 theaters, one of which will be equipped with VMAX technology and 860 seats, while two will be Gold Class luxury theaters. Cinema Park: Odeon’s second multiplex, located on Syngrou Avenue next to the Ledra Marriott Hotel, will have most of its theaters (10 in total) operating from the early morning. Due to open by Christmas, the cineplex will have the usual screenings, as well as interactive events and educational programs for school groups. Village Cinemas – Faliron Delta: By early 2006, the southern suburbs will be acquiring their own multiplex, right next to the tram and the Olympic tae kwon do center. The total number of theaters has not been decided on yet, but it will be no less than 10. I-Max: The biggest screen in the world is coming to Greece. It will be located in the center of Athens, seat 350 viewers and include a cafe and restaurant.