Dubbing strike halted

Stoppage ends after two months; soaps, pix back on track

ROME — After causing delays in the Italian release of several major fall titles, including “Saving Private Ryan,” and forcing television viewers to digest imported soap operas with subtitles, Italy’s dubbing actors union has called a halt to the strike that has been in force since July 15.

Union members, representatives from dubbing studios and negotiators for the major distribution companies met in the offices of national producers association ANICA this week to call a truce after the two-month face-off.

The strikers’ demands have been met for a uniform national contract with regular employee benefits rather than the unfavorable freelance terms that have long been standard. The terms of the contract will be finalized by March 1999. A watchdog commission also will be formed to enforce the rights of workers in the category and to intervene in cases of unfair treatment.

The agreement prompted a sigh of relief from both film distribution companies and TV networks, who can now return to releasing and airing imported product in the dubbed Italian-language versions to which local audiences are accustomed.

While a handful of key fall titles –including “Ryan,” “Out of Sight,” “The X-Files” and “Small Soldiers” — have seen their original release dates pushed back due to the strike, the return of the dubbers to work will allow for these and other scheduled titles to open before the glut of Christmas releases floods the market.

UIP in Rome confirmed that the only title that won’t be dubbed in time for its planned release date is DreamWorks’ animated feature “Antz.” Originally skedded for a Nov. 6 launch, the pic now has been pushed back to early next year.

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