US blockbusters continued to perform well, as expected, but the boost was helped by strong performance by local productions.
Zack Snyder's 300, although a US production, was a story from Greece's past, driving it to 1.2m admissions and the top slot at the yearly box-office. In second place with 850,000 admissions was local hit El Greco, Yiannis Smaragdis' biopic of the famous painter of Greek origin.
Other local titles that performed strongly Thodoris Atheridis' A Bee in August, Nikos Zapatinas' Kiss of Life, and Olga Malea's First Time Godfather. In addition to local content, all were crowd-pleasing comedies.
With box-office performance so healthy, local distribution powerhouses such as Odeon, Audiovisual and Village Films taking substantial stakes in the production of local titles, accompanied by such backers as public TV ERT and private Multichoise Hellas (Nova).
Distributor George Tziotzios of notes that Greece could still use a structure to support mid-range European films over several weeks at the box office without squeezing them out for new US films. 'Such a miss deprives the market of at least 700,000 admissions per year,' he said. He said a quota for a certain number of arthouse screens at a multiplex could solve the problem.
Exhibitor Leonidas Papageorgiou agreed, telling newspaper Kathimerini that 'there is a feeling of a need of art-plexes, situated, in the case of Athens, in the center of the town where there is easy access'.
Multiplexes have grown in Greece in the last decade, and some industry watchers say the exhibition market is nearing saturation, although new technology investment is needed.
Haris Antonopoulos, CEO of local multiplex pioneer Village Roadshow, noted that 'When Village came into the Greek market, ticket sales were at 6-7 million; since then they have doubled'. But he adds that further development, 'which could bring the tickets to 20 millions annually', is linked to new technologies as the Real D digital 3D format being introduced.
GREECE TOP TEN 2007
(film title, country of origin, Greek distributor and number of admissions)
300 (US) - Village, 1.2m
El Greco (Greece) - Audiovisual, 850,000
Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End (US) - Audiovisual, 510,000
Spiderman 3 (US) - Audiovisual, 500,000
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (US) - Village, 450,000
Ratatouille (US)- Audiovisual, 310,000
A Bee in August (Greece)-Audiovisual, 300,000
Kiss of Life (Greece) - Village, 255,000
The Life of Others (Germany) - Audiovisual, 230,000
First Time Godfather (Greece) - Odeon, 200,000