Greekdistributors have agreed to move back film release dates to Thursdays in anattempt to revitalise the country's embattled local box office.

Until now,Fridays have been the traditional opening day for films. The move takes effectfrom today (August 18).

Admissionsin Greece have plateaued in the past five years, at an estimated 11-12 millionper year (exact data is not available from distributors or the government).

In thepast year, however, multiplexes have experienced an admissions decrease of 10%-15%while traditional one-screen venues have seen figures plunge by up to 40%.

This is inspite of estimates during the late nineties that the local market shouldrapidly expand to 20 million admissions per year on the back of the multiplexconstruction boom.

MarilizaTotomi, general manager of the local UIP branch and secretary general of theFilm Distributors Federation of Greece (EDIKTE), said: "We decided on the shiftfaced with the fact that week days prove increasingly soft admissions wise.Bringing the release date to Thursday we count, by adding one more day, oncreating an extensive weekend, thus enlarging the period where most admissionsare generated."

Independentsources point out that distributors and exhibitors in their should also showflexibility on the subject of ticket prices to boost box office. The introduction of reduced rates forafternoon screenings during weekdays or during a whole weekday such asWednesday could be, they say, a good initiative.

With anadmission price of Euros 7, one of the highest in Europe, such a move would bewelcomed, especially now that the local economy is struggling and middle classrevenues are being severely squeezed as a result of the country's overspendingon the Athens Olympics in August 2004.