ECONOMY

Maroussi may be about to suffer a multiplex overload

On a recent trip to Berlin, I was standing in one of the central areas of the former East Berlin, Potsdamer Platz. After extensive reconstruction, there are five multiplex cinemas in the square and in an adjacent block, all operating within a few meters from each other. They are operated by companies such as CineMaxx, which have already expressed their interest in expanding into the Greek market. A closer inspection showed that all multiplexes were remarkably crowd-free, even for a weekday. This, only a few days after Berlinale, the famous international film festival, whose building is also to be found in Potsdamer Platz. This situation is a classic example of a mistake made by multinational multiplex operators who thought that the Berlin market could afford five multiplexes next to each other. This should serve as a warning for the Greek multiplex market, which has flourished over the first five years, beginning with the arrival of Australian company Village Roadshow. A similar situation seems to be developing in Maroussi, a northern Athens suburb, where Piraeus Real Estate, a Piraeus Bank group company, prepares to develop a big multiplex less than a kilometer away from the successful Village Center. The new development, on Kifissias Avenue, will include 12 screens, operated by the Odeon cinema chain, which has agreed to lease 4,000 square meters, two thirds of the development’s surface. The rest will contain cafes, restaurants, a bowling alley, a skating rink and parking area for 500 cars. Village Roadshow is waiting for the final go-ahead to Lamda Development’s plans for a «media village» at Maroussi. Besides housing for media accredited to 2004 Olympics – to be sold or leased after the Games – Lamda proposes to build a 70,000-square-meter commercial center. There, Village wants to build an entertainment park far larger than the Village Park at Rendi, where more than 2.2 million tickets are sold annually. This, and the presence of several other cinemas, enhances fears of saturation in the area.