Hollywood big gun envisions future for Greek cinema

Jim Gianopulos knows films. You don’t get to be the co-chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment and one of the most influential men in Hollywood if you don’t. The New York-born second-generation Greek-American is currently in Greece as part of the Great Ideas series, which is organized by the Fulbright Foundation and the US Embassy in Greece and is supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. In a discussion with journalists yesterday, he shared some tips as to how the local film industry could flourish. «Greece should have a strong local film industry but if we try to become Hollywood in Greece, we will waste a lot of time and money,» Gianopulos warned when questioned about how Greece might further develop its cinema industry. In one of three suggestions about how the film industry here could expand, the Fox executive emphasized it is vital that Greek films not lose their local character in a bid to compete on an international stage. «The industry has to have its roots in films made for Greece,» he said, underlining how hit French films rarely make money outside of France. Gianopulos said that developing Greek cinema would also involve better training for aspiring directors and technicians. «Greece must aim to develop the best possible filmmakers,» he said. Finally, he emphasized the need for Greece to attract more foreign productions to be filmed here. However, he accepted this would not be straightforward in the current economic environment. «This is a little difficult for financial reasons,» said Gianopulos, citing the high value of the euro against the dollar as a major reason for US productions not coming to Greece, as the cost of labor and moving production are just too great. Bulgaria is one of the European countries that has been able to attract Hollywood films but has done so by offering low labor costs and a 20 percent rebate to production companies. Gianopulos said the only way that Greece could get around this at present is if films with specific Greek themes, which lend themselves to being shot here, are developed – but, as he reminded his audience, there are not many films like «Mamma Mia!»

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