BUSINESS DROPS OFF FOR SPAIN'S FILM DUBBERS

The men and women who provide the Spanish voice-overs for Hollywood stars are upset these days.

Not only is business falling off after a boom led by imported television programs, but more and more movie theaters are showing foreign films in their original languages, with subtitles instead of voice-overs.

During Francisco Franco's 36-year dictatorship, which ended with his death in 1975, dubbing made it easier for the censors to cut out or change sensitive parts of the script.

When private Spanish television channels began regular programming in 1990, the dubbing industry boomed as demand for foreign television shows skyrocketed.

The number of dubbers rose from just a few to nearly 1,000, but now demand for their services is falling as program stockpiles grow.

And Spanish moviegoers, it seems, are becoming more sophisticated. A number of new "original version" cinemas have sprung up in Madrid.

"There's a peculiar prejudice against dubbers, as if they aren't really actors," said Eduardo Jover, a dubbing director with the voices of Tom Cruise, Anthony Perkins, and Tom Hanks in his repertoire.

Studios say the high cost of dubbing has taken a hefty bite out of their profits.

Jose Salcedo, a producer with EXA, one of Madrid's major dubbing studios, says that with increasing competition and rising costs dubbing "can run a studio into the red."

About 70 percent of costs go for dubbers' salaries, and a studio would be fortunate just to break even on a film like "JFK," which required an enormous cast and cost $90,000 to voice over.

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