Italian exhibs call for staggered releases

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ROME -- Italy's national association of exhibitors on Thursday called on film distributors to hold back on the release of blockbuster films, complaining that the high number of films in distribution over the first weeks of this year was counter-productive.

Paolo Protti, president of the group, known as ANEC, called the situation the "cannibal effect" -- meaning too many popular films in distribution force moviegoers to choose between too many options.

ANEC said that some of the top films released so far this year, both Hollywood and domestic fare, should be held for months closer to the traditionally slow summer season.

Among the top films in Italy so far this year are sci-fi action thriller "I Am Legend"; Denzel Washington-Russell Crowe film "American Gangster"; Woody Allen's "Cassandra's Dream"; and two big domestic comedies: "Una Moglia Bellisima" (A Beautiful Wife) and "Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore" (I'm Sorry If I Call You My Love).
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