Netflix Is Finally Paying Attention To Africa’s Largest Movie Industry - Nollywood.
Netflix is reportedly buying worldwide rights to the first-ever original Nigerian film, Lionheart - a comedy starring some of Nollywood’s most beloved actors, namely Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu and Genevieve Nnaji who takes on the dual role of actor and director on Lionheart.
Nollywood has been evolving over the years, and even though it is the second largest movie industry in the world by volume, the quality of the films needed much improvement. With that in mind, Nollywood has been placing a lot of emphasis on producing films of higher quality rather than just generating quantity and Netflix, featuring their first original Nollywood film, has been an assurance to the Nigerian film industry that they indeed are headed in the right direction.
Lionheart is not the first Nollywood film that Netflix has shown interest in. Previously Netflix has licensed Nollywood films such as The Wedding Party as well as crime thriller October 1 but only after both those films had been screened in local cinemas. Global streaming services are proving to be helpful to Nollywood as it struggles with high rates of piracy and insufficient local distribution network due to a shortage of cinemas.
The South African owned television channel, Africa Magic has also invested in the Nigerian film industry by backing Nollywood films with millions of dollars. Netflix is not the first streaming service to showcase Nollywood content. The first significant streaming service to feature Nollywood content was iROKOtv. The success that iROKOtv alone has achieved by extending its Nollywood content internationally to South Africa’s DStv, Sky in the UK and Canal Plus in France proves just how much market appeal is held by Nollywood films both in Africa and abroad.
Early clues that Netflix was interested in original African content date back to October 2016, when it launched in Africa and then provided Nigeria with a dedicated server to lessen the difficulties that locals were experiencing with content delivery. Netflix has enjoyed much success in Africa but with success comes completion.
Africa’s largest pay TV platform, Multichoice has suffered a decline in its number of subscribers and has called to have Netflix regulated in an attempt to level the playing field.