Race to build multiplexes is heating up

A decade ago, Greek cinemas appeared deserted compared to the golden age of the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, cinema-goers have been returning with a vengeance. This, and the emergence of cinema multiplexes have marked the past decade. The market is still growing and competition among multiplex developers and operators is reaching new heights. The market is dominated by five: Village Roadshow, Europlex, CityPlaza, Ster Cinemas and Odeon. Of these, Village Roadshow was the earliest and most aggressive operator, whose example the others followed. Its future plans include a significant presence in the commercial and leisure complex being developed in Pylaia, a suburb of Thessaloniki, by Lamda Development and Sonae-Charagionis. The complex will be ready by 2005. According to sources, Village Roadshow will then shut the cinema it operates in another commercial center, near the Thessaloniki airport. Village Roadshow will also occupy part of a 70,000 square meter commercial building Lamda Development is building, as part of one of the media villages that will accommodate media representatives at the 2004 Olympics and will serve as luxury apartments afterward. This particular village is being built at Maroussi, next to the main Olympic sports complex. Village Roadshow is also said to have bought a 40-acre piece of property in the suburb of Ano Liosia, northwest of Athens, to develop a theme park. Odeon is participating in a development by Hermes Properties in the northwestern city of Ioannina, where it will operate a six-screen multiplex; the commercial complex will open by year’s end. In Athens, Odeon is taking part in Cosmopolis Park, a development by the Piraeus Bank group, where it will operate a five-screen multiplex. Odeon has also agreed with the Kontellis group – owners of a Ford auto dealership – to participate in the development of a multiplex and restaurant venture, to be built in one of the dealer’s properties on Syngrou Avenue. Ster Cinemas, acquired by the Vardinoyiannis group last summer, will operate an 11-screen multiplex at a center being developed by construction group Hellenic Technodomiki, as will newcomer CityPlaza at the City Center, a development on central Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, near Ambelokipi. Recently, Europlex opened a multiplex in the town of Larissa and owns another, in Patras.