- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Netflix is expanding its Arabic footprint.
The streamer has landed its first Arabic original feature, an all-star adaptation of Italian box office hit Perfect Strangers. The film, transplanted to Beirut, shot in early 2021 and stars an impressive array of Arabic talent, including actress and filmmaker Nadine Labaki, who wrote and directed Capernaum, plus Mona Zaki (30 Years Ago, Scheherazade: Tell Me A Story, Escaping Tel Aviv), Adel Karam (The Insult, Caramel, Netflix’s Live From Beirut), Eyad Nassar (The Looming Tower, Sons of Rizk 2, The Blue Elephant 2), Diamand Bou Abboud (The Insult, The Sculptor, The Fixer) and Lebanese legend, actor and playwright George Khabbaz (Under the Bombs, Ghadi, and co-writer of Capernaum).
Perfect Strangers — which is expected to release on Netflix globally Jan. 20, 2022 — could become a major talking point and push boundaries in terms of Arab films. Telling the story of a group of friends who play a game where they make all the calls and text messages on their phones available to one another, the film touches on subjects such as homosexuality and infidelity, still taboo in many Middle East countries (films including Eternals and West Side Story were recently banned from cinemas due to their inclusion of LGBTQ storylines).
Alongside taking Perfect Strangers, Netflix has also signed a first look deal for Arabic features with the film’s producer Front Row, the Middle East distributor that has been ramping up its production arm over the last few years.
Perfect Strangers, also produced by Film Clinic, Empire Entertainment and Yalla Yalla, is Front Row’s first local language feature (it previously co-produced Luxor), but it has several others in the pipeline, including an Arabic remake of French smash hit Intouchables (which recently attached the writer/director duo of Amr El Daly and Jad Aouad and is due to start production in Egypt in May 2022). However, The Hollywood Reporter understands that Intouchables is not part of the Netflix deal and is destined for a theatrical release.
Netflix’s activity in the Arab-speaking world has been fairly muted so far compared to that of other major global territories, particularly for film.
It released its first Arabic original series, the Jordanian YA series Jinn, in 2019, followed in late 2020 by supernatural horror series Paranormal, based on a hugely popular Egyptian book series. In August 2021 it debuted the Jordanian miniseries AlRawabi School for Girls. On the film front, while Perfect Strangers may be its first Arabic feature, is has teamed with Front Row previously on several curated libraries, including collections of Lebanese, Egyptian and Palestinian features.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day