Popularly known as Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry is the world’s second-largest producer of commercial cinema, and also accounts for 5% of Nigeria’s GDP. It is estimated that over 2,500 movies are produced each year in Nollywood with the industry employing more than a million people. Ingenuity and resourcefulness have always been a trademark of Nollywood, from homemade movies to ground-breaking blockbusters over the past decade. But the industry is not without its share of controversies. On the one hand, you have the never-say-die attitude of Nigerians combined with the glitzy and glamorous red-carpet events with celebrities attracting multi-million-naira brand endorsements. But underneath, the industry is characterized by a lack of funding and piracy, which has consistently robbed filmmakers of their revenues. But Covid-19 has led to a halt in Nollywood production decimating millions of dollars in earnings for the industry. The pandemic’s arrival has led to producers looking at new ways of staying afloat as well as focusing on higher-quality movies for streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon who are hoping to take a slice of the 200-million content market. FORBES AFRICA spoke with three of the key players in Nollywood to find out about the current state of the industry and what trends will affect its future.
‘Nollywood Offers A Gateway To A New Opportunity In Africa’
Mo Abudu, CEO, EbonyLife Media
Abudu began EbonyLife in 2013 by launching a premium TV channel and in the same year, the company announced its first international partnership with Disney Media Distribution EMEA on the iconic hit series Desperate Housewives, bringing a new take on the series’ darkly comic view of suburbia to African audiences. In 2018, Sony Pictures Television announced a threeyear deal with EbonyLife TV, In January this year, AMC Networks (USA) announced its partnership with EbonyLife to produce Nigeria 2099, an Afro-futuristic crime-drama created by EbonyLife and in June, Netflix signed a multi-title deal with EbonyLife to create two original series and multiple branded films and a series. Abudu shares more:
How has Nollywood evolved over the years?
The Nigerian entertainment industry is currently going through a renaissance. While historically, Nigeria has been dependent on oil and agriculture to subsidize its economy, Nollywood is rapidly taking over this role, not just in terms of content creation, but also in terms of distribution within Africa and the rest of the world. It’s inspiring to see more stories out of Nollywood told by Nigerian creators, and using resources found in Nigeria. As a result, there is an international desire to invest in Nollywood stories, to make investments in productions within the nation’s borders, and hence elevate the quality of output to make it more appealing to a global audience. For example, among the highlights of our partnership with Netflix will be a film adaptation of Death and the King’s Horseman, a play by Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, and a series based on Lola Shoneyin’s best-selling debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. Nigerian entertainment is no longer just for Nigeria, but also the world.
How far can Nollywood go in the global content marketplace?
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October - November 2020