Dubai's Front Row to remake French hit ‘Intouchables’ in Arabic

It will be the second in the company's slate of remakes of global films after Italian title 'Perfect Strangers'

A still from the original French film 'Intouchables' starring Omar Sy, left, and Francois Cluzet. Photo: Gaumont
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Front Row Filmed Entertainment, one of the leading film distributors in the region, is continuing with its slate of Arabic remakes of international hits by landing the writer/directing team of Amr El Daly and Jad Aouad for its reboot of the French hit, Intouchables.

The film, which is due to start shooting in Egypt in May 2022, will be the Dubai company's second attempt at remaking an existing international hit following its adaptation of the 2016 Italian success story, Perfetti Sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers).

Intouchables was a huge hit globally upon its release in 2011. It became the highest grossing foreign language film of the year, taking $426 million at the international box office, and also rose to third place in France’s all-time box office charts.

The film has inspired a number of international adaptations, including 2017’s US version, The Upside, starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman.

The Arabic version of Intouchables will be set in Egypt and, like the French original, focuses on a wealthy paraplegic and his relationship with a small-time crook who becomes his carer. The two form a strong bond despite the wide social and cultural divide between them.

Egyptian screenwriter El Daly’s career began with the highly regarded TV series Dawaran Shoubra, an ensemble drama set amid the 2011 Tahrir Square uprisings, which were unfolding as he wrote his script. El Daly followed up with TV projects including Ded El Kasr and Bi Meet Wesh, both massive successes across various Arabic TV and streaming platforms.

His focus on themes of class struggle and the individual versus the collective will be further explored in Intouchables.

“I am very excited about adapting Intouchables into an Arabic language, Egyptian film. The story touches on many relatable themes explored through the differences between the socioeconomic classes, which is something that cuts deep for me," El Daly said. "I am intrigued by the contrast in the nature, circumstances, morals and education of the two characters, and am truly excited to play around with these dynamics and how they form this bond.

"I am also really looking forward to working with Jad Aouad having met him in Cairo. I feel he is really sensitive to these complex issues within this story, and we really saw eye-to-eye in that sense."

Intouchables will mark Aouad's feature debut following a successful, award-winning career in advertising.

“I’ve been building to this moment my entire career. Intouchables is a touching, humanist film that fits perfectly with my personal sensibilities – what brings us together as people, what transcends status and capital," Aouad said.

Front Row chief executive officer Gianluca Chakra said the pair will make the story "unique for Arab viewers".

"We’ve made it our mission to find and nurture emerging talent that we feel will have a profound impact and drive change in the creative industry. We’re very excited to be working with both Jad and Amr on Intouchables," he said. "They have truly authentic voices and a natural instinct that will make this version unique for Arab viewers, while also translating well for international audiences."

Updated: December 15, 2021, 9:34 AM