What it’s like to be a fan of American Movies… from Italy. By Jersey!!

Bergamo, Italy. Jersey’s Hometown.

I think that everyone who reads this blog knows the feeling: a new movie you want to see so badly is coming out. Let’s say that it is going to be released in three months. So you start counting down the days, filling the spare time with teasers, trailers, sneak peeks, interviews, etc. Now, picture this: the day has finally come. The entire world can enjoy the movie you’ve been waiting and craving for. Well, actually everyone can, except you… Because your country hasn’t bought it yet, or because it takes another couple of months to dub it (in Italy all foreign movies are dubbed). So teasers, trailers, sneak peeks and whatever, turn into reviews, debates, damn spoilers… This is how life feels like when you’re fond of American movies but you live in Italy.

I have to be honest: it wasn’t that bad until a few years ago. I grew up without internet – I’m not that old, but still I got to see a netless world – so I used to keep myself updated about upcoming films reading Italian magazines. Needless to say, most of the articles in there were only about Italian releases. So I just didn’t worry or get anxious about it. But then the Internet Era came along and, long story short: the entire world became United States of Social Networks and I couldn’t ignore original releases anymore. It was Lost time, which Italian television started to air in 2007, so one year after the American premiere. At the time, needless to say, the Net was already going crazy about it. I saw the first two season on TV, that I just got really, really frustrated. Everyone got to know what was in the hatch before me, everybody got to know the Others before me… That was time for a change. So God bless streaming and uTorrent, which solved all of my problems. From that moment on, I never turned on TV again. Oh, by the way, you gotta know that in Italy there are lots of voluntary people who subtitles episodes and put it online. They are truly heroes and sometime they are so good that they succeed in getting a real job as translators and “subtitlers” (I don’t know if this is the correct word, hope you understand what I’m saying anyway) for DVDs, festivals, etc. Oh, by the way/2: Hulu, and Netflix do not work outside the States.

Now, let’s get to the movies and their Italian distribution. The thing is, release windows here are very different from the American ones. The main problem is summer: in the US summer is the best season for blockbusters. In Italy, if you’re not Harry Potter, Batman or Edward Cullen(I’m talking about event-movies), you have no chance to survive summer. So if Cowboys and Alien comes out in July almost all over the world, in Italy you have to wait ’till October 14th, because nobody goes to the movies in summertime. That’s a (crappy) socially acknowledged rule. So, absolutely nothing to see for 3 – 4 very long months, but in the end you get two exceptionally crowded windows: Christmas time, followed by late January early February, when you finally get to see the Oscar nominated movies. Get organized guys, ’cause you have the chance to catch up at least ten great movies in just four weeks.

On a side note, Venice Film Festival: winners usually get an early release. Usually, not every time. But if you go there, you can get to see advanced screening… Like I did with The Hurt Locker and The Road, presented at the Festival two and one year before worldwide release.

If you really want to see a film, it’s not so hard to find it on the net one week after the official release. But personally, I have a thing for theaters: sitting there in the dark with your pop-corns and getting your ears smashed by THX or Dolby, does not feel the same as laying on you bed with your too small laptop on your belly, watching a very crappy copy of the film. Yeah, that’s my problem: I grew up in movie theaters, where I’ve been going at least once a week for all my life, even alone. So, at some point, I just dealt with it and kept on waiting for damn Italian releases.

The real problem came last year, when I won a fellowship and got accepted for two semesters at UC Berkeley. I moved to the States. It was film-heaven. Not only I could see films without waiting additional months, I could also see seasons of old films, like American Graffiti, Jaws, Jurassic Park…. As I said, heaven. One year later I came back to reality. I mean, to Italy. And I couldn’t just deal with it anymore! Besides watching films without waiting, for one year I had listened to the actor’s original voices. Now, dubbed film just don’t feel right anymore. Before living a year in the States, I used to watch film in english thanks to DVDs. But that were special occasions. Now I just wanna do it in theaters too and I can’t. So what’s a film addicted to do? Nothing, just deal with it once more, giving up to dubbed films or downloaded copies every once in a while.

So, wrapping up: first and only rule of Italian releases… Get organized and deal with it!

Jersey writes for her own blog, Walk Like Heroes. You can visit it by clicking the banner above! Check it out!

14 thoughts on “What it’s like to be a fan of American Movies… from Italy. By Jersey!!

  1. Jersey, thanks! :D

    It’s been really great having so many people read my stuff and comment over here, and you’ve been a big part of that, so I wanted to be sure to thank you for that as well.

    As to the crappy “World Distribution” model, I assume that that is going to change. And soon, probably as well. “Worldwide” grosses are becoming a bigger and bigger factor in the business of movies, and it wont be long before studios realize… hey making people wait in certain spots is like throwing advertising dollars out the window! If we realease it at the same time, everywhere, we can ride the wave of the new release marketing all around the world! :D

    At least, I hope. Sometimes Hollywood doesn’t seem to have the smarts you would think they would.

    • Thank you, Fogs!

      I had fun writing the post, and I’m glad you guys find it interesting.

      As for the distribution, there are some worldwide releases: Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga, for instance. But in the US I had the chance to talk to a producer from Disney, and he said that it is impossible ti sell movies to Italy during summertime, which is when blockbusters come out in the US. It has something to do with Italian culture, I guess. It gets really really hot in here, and people just leave cities and go to the lakes or the sea. I do too… ‘cuz there’s nothing to see in theaters!

  2. This is a very interesting read! I have never really thought about many of the aspects Jersey brought up here! I knew there was a delay in release dates, but wow, it’s a HUGE delay…..Curious her take on certain movies, because to me, there are certain people who’s voices can’t be dubbed…….. Would Dirty Harry be as Dirty if it weren’t Clint’s voice? I wonder if the actors who do the voices actually study what the original actors sounded like? Do they try to sound the same….or do they make the characters their “own”? Was she able to re-watch the American version of an Italian dubbed movie…..wonder what she thought?This is such a unique perspective having spent some time in the states, then returning to Italy…..thanks for sharing!

    • Maybe you will enjoy these videos:

      There are really good dubbers in here, they do study the original voice and try to adapt. But, despite their great work, I prefer original voices. They just sound more natural, and overall it enhances the actor’s performance (if it’s a good one).

      Thanks Debbie, I’m glad you enjoyed my post :)

  3. I spend a couple of years in England, and that was bad enough. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to wait that long for big ticket films. They would feel like yesterday’s news by the time you finally got to see them.

  4. This was really interesting. When I lived in Belgium it seemed to me that movies were released pretty quickly, but that’s mostly because I lived under a rock, or couldn’t afford to go to the movies anyway. They subtitle films though, so at least when I did go I got to listen to it in the original English. In the US, the only dubbing I really come across is in kung-fu, but then those people are “professionals” only in the very vaguest sense of the word, and the corny voices become part of the whole experience.

  5. Very interesting post. I never gave any thought to what it would be like to have to wait so long. Getting to see movies like The Hurt Locker and The Road long before release date is pretty cool. I never had to see those films in theaters in any capacity, let alone see them early.

    Great post, and a great start to the series.

  6. Film distribution is a sham right now. The system worked years ago when, like you said, the internet didnt exist. But now we live in such a Global culture it doesn’t make sense that certain countries get access to films before others.

    Even in Canada we run into this problem. It’s not so bad for the major studio films like Transformers or Cowboys Vs. Aliens, but if something is even the least bit “indie” we have to wait weeks, sometimes months after it releases in The States to see it. I live in Toronto, which is one of the bigger film cities in the world, yet we still have to deal with this delay. It’s frustrating, and pointless.

  7. Thanks for the different perspective, Jersey. I have to say I’d never considered what it would be like for movie-goers in other countries. I do wonder if the distribution is even something that could be reasonably addressed, though… a simultaneous release would require that all the translation work be done ahead of time. I don’t know that studios would want to sit on the U.S. release in order to release the Italian or Belgian version at the same time.

    • Yeah, that’s pretty much the main issue. In many non-english country they use subtitles, but not in Italy and this slows down distribution.
      On the other hand, worldwide releases could help to avoid online piracy, but there so many other financial factors to keep in mind… This is never going to change, I guess!

  8. I can sympathise to some degree. Here in the UK things are changing. A few occasions they’ll be released before the US. Which is just crazy talk. That mostly applies to some big blockbusters or films that are from a UK based studio. However there will be some Indie flicks or foreign films which barely get a look in over here. They get blasted out of the cinema screens by the massive juggernaut films.

    This year I was looking forward to seeing Hescher… but never got a release here!

  9. I read where you said that the American movies were dubbed before they were released. Do they provide English subtitles or is it strictly an American movie dubbed in Italian? I am going to be going to school in Italy and want to see new releases, but do not speak Italian so wanted to see if I would at least be able to read the subtitles.
    Thank you!!

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