Workload increases with more day-and-date openings

ROME — A strike by Italy’s dubbers could jeopardize the day-and-date releases of big Hollywood pics including “Troy” and “The Day After Tomorrow” in May, and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in early June.

Just as actors in the U.S. are holding contract talks, the thesps who give English-speaking actors a voice in Italy are in the middle of a contract renewal dispute. They want a wage hike and are fighting what they call unreasonably short deadlines for delivering a dubbed pic.

“We want 20 days to work on a movie, not just five, as is the case now,” said a spokesman for the union — called AIDAC — which started the all-out strike on Friday.

The work pace has intensified for Italo dubbers with the increase of day-and-date openings due to piracy.

Crisis predicted

According to Buena Vista Italy topper Paul Zonderland, if deadlines for releases aren’t met, the situation could become critical. “These films are fundamental to turn this year into a positive one, after last year’s downturn,” he cautioned.

While in the short term Buena Vista’s activities in Italy will not be affected, Zonderland said he is already planning to put out the trailer for “Kill Bill Vol. 2″ in English if it can’t be dubbed on time.

Italian dubbers went on strike last July, posing a threat to fall releases. But they backpedaled after being promised that their contract — which technically expired more than a year ago — would soon be renewed.

The country’s main dubbing studios, ALIED and Editori Associati, said the current strike made it impossible to enter into talks about the dubbers’ demands.

Non-union competish

The studios cited the economic climate and cutthroat competition from companies employing non-union dubbers as the main reasons for the crisis.

The national dubbers’ contract affects about 1,000 workers, including 700 actors. Dubbing in Italy generates an estimated $35 million in revenues, only about 25 % of which is generated by feature films. Most of the rest comes from TV dramas.

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