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Peace talks bring ray of hope

Macedonia filmers determined to improve odds

SKOPJE, Macedonia — With negotiators busy trying to hammer out a peace accord to the five-month Macedonian conflict, and the nation’s citizens hoping for a return to normalcy, the country’s film biz is also looking to come out of hiding.

The territory’s top exhib, City Cinema, is already developing a strategy to jumpstart the box office, with company G.M. Aco Dukovski hoping to bring people out to the movies with a mix of both top local and Hollywood releases.

Key to the plan are September-October releases of both Disney’s “Pearl Harbor” and U.K.-Macedonian co-production “Dust,” the latest from Oscar-nominated Macedonian helmer Milcho Manchevsky.

“I hope the fighting will finish this summer, and we’ll make up the viewers we lostin the fall and the New Year,” Dukovski says.

It won’t be easy. Last year, Macedonia’s theaters sold just 600,000 tickets, and at $1.50 a pop, on average.

But Macedonian filmers are determined to improve their odds, and Dukovski says City Cinema is negotiating with investors over a new Skopje multiplex, though details were not forthcoming.

But such plans, like life for most Macedonians, are on hold.

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