French mini-major Gaumont is re-teaming with “The Intouchables” filmmakers Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache on their long-gestated passion project, “The Specials,” starring Vincent Cassel and Reda Kateb.
“The Specials” is an uplifting drama about the true story of Stephane Benhamou and Daoud Tatou, two friends from different religious faiths who, 20 years ago, created a pair of non-profit organizations for children with severe autism.
Toledano and Nakache are best-known for directing “The Intouchables,” which scored $450 million worldwide. Their last film, “C’est la vie,” is the second-highest grossing French film worldwide this year so far, with $40 million .
“The Specials” is being produced by Toledano and Nakache’s regular partners at Paris-based production banner Quad. Gaumont is co-producing with Toledano and Nakache’s company Ten Films. Gaumont is also handling international sales and will release the movie in France on Oct. 23, 2019.
Budgeted at $15 million, “The Specials” brings back crew members from “The Intouchables,” notably the artistic director Mathieu Vadepied and the editor Dorian Rigal Ansous.
“As we’ve done with ‘The Intouchables,’ ‘Samba’ and ‘C’est la vie,’ ‘The Specials’ will mix drama and comedy because that’s our DNA,” said Toledano, adding that he and Nakache met Benhamou years ago, before they even made “The Intouchables,” and he was key in making them understand the issues surrounding physical handicaps.
“‘The Specials’ is a story about a deep friendship between two men which allows them to overcome their differences, and it’s also a story about the daily struggle of people with mental health issues and the prejudice they face,” said Cecile Gaget, head of international co-production and distribution at Gaumont.
Nakache said “The Specials” was inspired by many different movies depicting conflicted youths and prejudice in subtle and cinematic ways, from “Moonlight,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Like Father, Like Son.”
The co-director said Cassel and Kateb decided to come on board the project after spending time at the non-profit organizations that care for children with autism.