There are a few film production houses in Nigeria that continue to break grounds in the industry. The likes of Royal Arts Academy, Denziot Productions, EbonyLife Studios, Rucksack Productions, Corporate World, ROK Studios, Entertainment, Film One Production and few others, have done exceptionally well in film production and box office ratings. Some of these film production giants have had to partner with international video-on-demand platforms to have their works there for the international audience.
Netflix is one of the biggest Video on Demand streaming platforms in the world. The company over the years have had cause to collaborate with local filmmakers globally in creating local content but with international appeal and distribute to the global market. It’s sometimes referred to as a Netflix original production. A popular example is the worldwide accepted Spanish action series, La Casa De Papel, otherwise known as Money Heist.
While Netflix has partnered with some Nigerian filmmakers on distribution, there has not been any on production- until now. Netflix Nigeria recently announced its production collaborative effort with Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Productions. The collaboration will see them working together to produce 2 indigenous literary classics- a series adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and a film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Death and the Kind’s Horsemen. Another interesting news is that Mo and her production outfit will also produce 2 new Nigerian originals plus licensed films and a series for the international streaming giant. The announcement was made via Netflix Nigeria official twitter handle- @Netflixnaija.
While this is great news and a huge achievement for Nollywood and in particular for Mo Abudu and EbonyLife, someone in the comments asked a question that caught attention. @Shawna_kayz asked, “We don’t want the same cast pls!!! Adesua, sola Sobowale, And co!! Give us unknown faces. Thanks. We’re tired of seeing recycled faces”. Looking back at 4 of Ebony Life’s biggest productions, can we really say there were news faces in those movies? Wedding Party 1 and 2 had almost same cast with a few extras in the sequel, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel had a blend of old and new actors, Chief Daddy as well saw a mixture of known faces from old and new Nollywood.
The partnership between Netflix and EbonyLife is a great milestone achieved in Nollywood. If done right, the production is great and the films are well received both locally and internationally, it is going to open up a lot of opportunities for other independent producers. A lot is hanging on this partnership, for some it’s not just EbonyLife and Netflix, it’s actually Nollywood and Netflix. Hollywood and Bollywood and other film industries around the world too are keen on seeing what this collaboration will birth. This could just be the window the Nigerian movie industry needs to fully penetrate the international market, not in terms of distribution alone, but content sharing and production with film practitioners over the world. It could also shine a spotlight on Nigeria as a whole, that is, another way to rebrand the already damaged image the country has outside its shores.
With the pedigree of EbonyLife Productions, there is much hope that these forthcoming fil.