Cast has been set and shoot scheduled for the Arabic-language remake of Italian box office smash hit Perfect Strangers.
Lebanese actress and filmmaker Nadine Labaki (Capernaum) has been cast alongside Egyptian star Mona Zaki (30 Years Ago), Adel Karam (The Insult), Eyad Nassar (The Looming Tower), Diamand Bou Abboud (The Insult) and George Khabbaz (Under the Bombs).
Wissam Smayra is directing and co-wrote the screenplay with Gabriel Yammine. Producers are Gianluca Chakra, Mohamed Hefzy and Mario Haddad. Production companies are Front Row Filmed Entertainment, Empire Entertainment and Film-Clinic. Filming on the delayed pic, which has been postponed by Covid-19 and also political turmoil in Lebanon, has now been scheduled for February 2. Mayada Hiraki is executive producing.
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Italian comedy-drama Perfect Strangers, released in 2016, was a box office hit, grossing north of $30M. The film has since achieved a Guinness World Record by becoming the most remade movie in history with 18 versions and counting – in total they have cumulatively grossed some $270M globally.
The Arabic incarnation will be set in the midst of the Lebanese revolution and during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the story following a group of seven long-time friends getting together for dinner. During the course of the meal they decide to play a game that involves them all placing their cellphones on the dinner table, and making all their phone calls and text messages available to one another. While the game at first is a playful exercise, things get decidedly more serious as untold secrets and acquaintances become public knowledge within the group.
“2020 has been a discouraging year for all but seeing everyone’s conviction, commitment and excitement to this amazing project gives us all an infinite amount of positivity,” said Mario Jr. Haddad, President, Empire International.
“We’ve seen Egyptian films. Lebanese Films. Saudi films. But never an Arab film,” commented Gianluca Chakra, CEO, Front Row Filmed Entertainment. “The Middle east has never produced a successful Pan-Arab film as audiences are different across each country and so is the audience. With a contained environment such as this one, we hope that by blending in Egyptian and Lebanese talent who play long time friends, we could break this mold and start off a new trend in Arab Cinema by introducing new talent using the strength of each Middle East country has to offer. Finally calling it Arab cinema.”
Mohamed Hefzy, CEO, Film-Clinic, added: “I saw in this project a rare opportunity to work with some of the brightest stars of the Arab World and two of the most influential companies working in the production and distribution of quality cinema in the MENA region, making this a truly Arab creative collaboration, even if adapted from an international concept.”
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