Greece's distribution sector has already decided on onewinner of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games - the event itself.
Having witnessed a slump in cinema admissions due to theunexpected success of the national soccer team In the European Football Cup,distributors and exhibitors have collectively decided not to open any new filmsduring the games (August 13-28).
Local productions, which rarely open during the summerseason, will be largely unaffected. However, Hollywood releases, which areincreasingly launched during the summer, due to the growth in open-air cinemas,have been put on hold.
According to distributor Pandelis Mitropoulos of Prooptiki,which handles Buena Vista and Columbia product, "the admissions decrease is expected to rise to20%. This affects open air summer theatres".
Summer theatresregistered 3.5 millionadmissions last season (June-Sept 2003), a big chunk of the 14 million annualtotal.
Village Roadshow-Warner's, sales executive Renee Masara,adds: " faced with this situation we decided not to open any importantforeign film during the Games, which results in delaying the start of theautumn winter season by two weeks".
As a result, KingArthur and Harry Potter And ThePrisoner Of Azkaban are scheduledto hit the screens in September.
Village Roadshow has been the driving force behind theincrease in admissions in recent years, being the first to build multiplexes inthe country. It leads the pack with 5 sites and 45 screens and at least fourmore under construction plus a number of open air summer venues (Village Cool).It is followed by Ster Cinemas (3 sites, 29 screens) and Alpha Odeon (2 sites,26 screens).