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Producers synchronize Italian sound to American films

Movies being struck dumb in Italy

Web posted on: Thursday, August 13, 1998 4:32:54 PM

From Correspondent Gayle Young

ROME (CNN) -- The latest Hollywood movies are not coming to Italy's neighborhood theaters; they are coming to a screeching halt.

English-language movies rake in over a billion dollars a year in Italy, but without exception, they are all dubbed into Italian. Not now -- Italy's "special actors" aren't speaking.

The hundreds of actors who normally dub English movies into Italian are on strike. They want more money, more recognition and residuals for movies destined for television and video rentals.

Claudio Sorrentino, the Italian voice of Mel Gibson, shows how it's done

1.8M QuickTime movie

Producer Claudia Gvirtzman: "They tend to really know that actor."

217K WAV file

Studios holding out

Studio officials say they will wait it out. They refuse to release new movies with subtitles or the voices of amateurs.

"Frankly, we prefer not to because there's a big difference between professionals and non-professionals," said Paolo Ferrari of Warner Brothers.

Certainly, Italy's actors feel that way. They are considered the world's best and most conscientious dubbers. In the mouths of the Italians, for instance, the Cockney accents of the British working class in "The Full Monty" become a northern Italian dialect.

And when it comes to screaming, Claudio Sorrentino is a "Lethal Weapon 4."

Actor: 'We do our job well'

Italians demand dubbing excellence

"If the movies do well in Italy, it's because we do our job well. When people hear my voice ... they look around for Mel Gibson," Sorrentino said. "Of course, when they see me, they are a little disappointed, even though I'm taller than Mel Gibson."

Producer Claudia Gvirtzman agrees that Italy's actors are much more than dubbers. "They tend to really know that actor. They really know him ... or her. They tend to know the nuances, as if they are speaking from the same voice," Gvirtzman said.

Studio officials believe the strike could last for months. Who can save "Private Ryan" in Italian?

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