Roberto Benigni will use his own voice to dub the English soundtrack for the international version of his new film, Pinocchio, which is released this Friday in Italy and on Christmas day in the US.

The comic's wife, Nicoletta Braschi, who plays the fairy godmother in Benigni's adaptation of the Carlo Collodi classic will also be dubbing her own role in English, Pinocchio producer Elda Ferri told

But Ferri underlined that besides the language, there will be no other differences between the Italian and international versions.

Meanwhile, Italy is now bracing itself for its widest ever release, with Pinocchio due to be distributed on Friday on a record 860 screens under a joint Cecchi Gori-Medusa banner.

And according to Claudio Trionfera, head of press at Medusa, the number of screens could even increase.

"Everyone wants to screen the film - it's such a huge event," said Trionfera. "So the final number of screens the film will come out on isn't yet definite."

The decision to release the film ahead of the crowded but lucrative Christmas season, unlike Benigni's previous movies, will also help the film set some new box office records: Pinocchio will pre-empt the Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings sequels by a couple of months and will benefit from a relatively quiet run-up to Christmas.

Pinocchio's release date also means the film will be eligible to become Italy's foreign Oscar candidate, under the Academy regulations which stipulate that films must be released in their own territory before the end of October 2002 in order to be eligible for the 2003 awards.