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Netflix has greenlit its most ambitious Middle East series to date, and from two of the region’s most established names.
Paranormal, based on the best-selling Arabic horror books by late author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik that have sold more than 15 million copies, also marks the streaming giant’s first foray into Egyptian drama, and will be produced by Mohamed Hefzy and Amr Salama. The latter — who directed the Egyptian Oscar entry Sheikh Jackson and local box office hit Excuse My French — will helm the series and serve as showrunner.
Set in the 1960s, Paranormal follows the adventures of Dr. Refaat Ismail as he comes up against various supernatural events. Tawfik penned 81 of the pocket novels — titled Ma Waraa Al Tabiaa in Arabic — in the series before passing away in early 2018.
“I’m proud to be working with Netflix on bringing to life the Paranormal series, which I hold dear to my heart,” said Hefzy, one of the Middle East’s most recognized and prolific producers and behind films such as Cannes-bowing Clash and Yomeddine. Hefzy also serves as the director of the Cairo Film Festival, a role he took up last year.
“I’m also excited to be cooperating again with longtime collaborator and friend, director Amr Salama,” he said. “Together with Netflix, we aim to present a show of international quality and that lives up to the promises and ambitions of Egyptian and Arabic drama.”
Added Salama: “I’m very excited about this project, It was my dream to adapt Paranormal of the late author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik and turn it into a drama since I ever wanted to be a filmmaker. I’m proud to present the books in a new light while still keeping the essence of Paranormal.”
Expected to be filmed in Egypt, Paranormal is the third original scripted series from the Middle East for Netflix after Jordanian YA horror Jinn — set to be released in June — and the Al Rawabi School for Girls, which was announced in April. The streamer’s first Middle East project was the Arabic stand-up comedy Adel Karam: Live From Beirut, which launched last year, while it made its first local acquisition in 2016 with the Emirati feature Zinzana.
“We are excited to continue our investment in Middle Eastern productions by adapting the highly acclaimed Paranormal novels into a thrilling new series,” Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix’s vp international originals. “We’re also pleased to collaborate with prominent producer Mohamed Hefzy and director Amr Salama whose creative vision we look forward to bringing to our global audience.”
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