In the mid-20th century, African movies were being made but the opportunities available to talent and investors alike were limited due to a solid market structure.
In recent years, the Nigerian film industry commonly known as Nollywood is taking the world by storm. Gone are the days when Nigerian movies were watched only by Nigerians, in Nigeria, with little or no respect for talent, craftsmanship, or production quality. Movies were created in a haste, with little to no budgets, often shot in just a couple of days. Rampant piracy and the widespread circulation of unlicensed copies are into the profits putting off both foreign and local investors.
Presently, better quality made films and more controlled distributions have seen a huge impact at the box office in a nation with a potential market of over 200 million people. This increased appreciation for locally produced content has led to an increase in the market’s success. The Wedding Party and its sequel Wedding Party 2 released by director Kemi Adetiba in 2016 and 2017 generated over $2 million, beating out US blockbusters for the first time.
It is a well-known fact that Nigeria is home to some of the most talented and dedicated creatives in the global entertainment industry. In less than three decades, Nollywood has evolved from the early days of “Grab your copy now!” to become the second-largest global film industry due to the innate tenacity and dedication of all those who saw the undisputed purpose of Nollywood- to bring Naija to the world!
Netflix is one of few entertainment companies that seems to value authentic African stories, told by African voices. Since establishing its presence in Nigeria in 2016, Netflix has achieved many notable milestones in Africa and seems to have fully embraced all that Naija offers with their recent announcement of a multi-title partnership with Nigeria’s most prolific storytellers- Kunle Afolayan.
The multi-title partnership not only cements the strong relationship between Netflix and Kunle with three branded films from his own production company, Golden Effects but also suggests that Netflix has a deep commitment to Nigeria.
All three will be set in Nigeria, the first of which will be an adaptation of Nigerian-American novelist, short-story writer, playwright and screenwriter, Sefi Atta’s third novel, Swallow. The novel is about a naive secretary who, after a series of career woes, considers her roommate’s offer to work as a drug mule in mid-1980s Lagos. The stories are diverse in genre, riveting in the storyline, and more importantly, uniquely Naija!
Afolayan confirmed in a recent interview with Ben Amadasun, Netflix’s director of content for Africa that he has concluded principal photography for the film.
Following up on his style of casting non-actors in lead roles, Afolayan’s latest film stars singer Niyola, Eniola Akinbo, as Tolani Ajao.
Other cast members include Chioma Akpotha, Deyemi Okanlawon, Ijeoma Grace Agu, Omotunde Adebowale, Eniola Badmus, Mercy Aigbe, Kelvin Ikeduba, Joke Muyiwa, BBNaija reality star Thin Tall Tony, and Olusegun Akinremi
Netflix members can expect the first original from this deal, Swallow (based on the book by the acclaimed author Sefi Atta), to premiere sometime in Q4, while the other titles- Anikulapo and Recall progress through their respective production stages. Even with Kunle Afolayan keeping his cards very close to his chest, there is undoubtedly a growing excitement to watch more of his bold and sophisticated takes on the Nigerian perspective in his upcoming projects.
Netflix aims to capture the true essence of what makes Nigeria and Nigerians so unique by amplifying Nigeria’s stories to the rest of the world because they genuinely believe that great stories can come from anywhere and be loved by anyone.