CULTURE

World Cup fever hits cinemas

Who is the bigger star, Tom Hanks or David Beckham? With World Cup fever gripping the country, this is not such an unlikely comparison as both the actor and soccer player hold an equal spot in the spectacle business. As people stay home to watch the international tournament unfold, cinemas are facing a decline in ticket sales. That is, most theaters apart from those that offer an alternative program. Traditional summer blockbuster releases have been replaced by soccer this season, with theaters in Britain, America and even Greece adapting their schedule to the soccer extravaganza. In Athens, two municipal theaters, the Cine Dafni in Dafni and Athinaia in Halkoutsi, have traded in films for soccer games, showing the daily matches at 10 p.m. every day. While this has not really improved ticket sales so far, the management at Dafni says that the low turnout was mostly due to the rainy weather last week and are looking to a turnaround from now on. However, cinemas showing World Cup matches seem to be holding on to the audiences other theaters are losing. These are mostly soccer fans who would rather watch the game in a quiet environment, rather than a bar or a cafe, and who, of course, prefer to see it on the big screen. In England, numerous theaters have replaced their normal screening programs with World Cup games, and some cinema multiplexes have even gone as far as offering a buffet meal along with the price of a ticket. A recent Reuters report said that directors of cinema houses are even talking about the World Cup reviving the local industry. The British Film Institute, which has the biggest screen in London, an IMAX, and which usually shows documentaries or digitally remastered classics, has scheduled screenings for England’s games against Trinidad and Sweden, charging the audience a rather steep 12 pounds (18 euros). Despite these titillating offerings being made by theaters, however, many people still seem reluctant to give up the comfort of their own home and the company of friends to watch their team play.