The sad impact of the coronavirus pandemic was and is still felt all across the world. And as you already know, months after the first outbreak, several sectors in Nigeria were temporarily shut down, including the Nollywood industry, and things haven’t remained the same since then.
In an attempt to reduce and contain the spread of the deadly virus, the Nigerian government even instituted non-essential business closure orders, ensuring only essential workers at the frontlines were allowed to leave their homes. As expected, the Nigerian entertainment industry was considered non-essential, therefore, the production of films and TV series was effectively put on hold. In fact, Nollywood through and through, Funke Akindele found herself behind bars because she allegedly broke coronavirus rules while celebrating in her home.
Since a lot of people were stuck in their different homes, they simply had to find entertainment in already existing media, and this led to an increase in streaming services such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu e.t.c. During this trying period, Netflix Naija also began to thrive in the country as the streaming giant started making its presence felt by licensing popular Nollywood movies from the 2010s to stream on its platform.
Netflix even took things a step further by producing and co-producing newer movies, and interesting films like “Òlòturé” and “Citation” got acquired by Netflix to stream before they were even available in local theatres. We can only assume that the impact and success of movies like that actually encouraged Netflix to engage in more partnerships with Nollywood producers and directors.
Last year, as the world began to slowly adjust to the new era when coronavirus started dying down, Nollywood producers immediately seized their chance to make up for lost time and money. They have gone ahead to seal deals and create contents that have not just impacted Nigeria’s movie culture positively, but also Nigeria’s gross domestic product.
In fact, some of these talented producers have since gone on to be household names and the deals they have individually made in recent years have been nothing short of extraordinary. If you are wondering who these movie-makers are, see our list of Best Nollywood Producers Who Have Struck The Biggest Deals In Recent Years (2021/2022).
1. Kemi Adetiba:
You already know Kemi to be a producer, director, and writer. She is popular for being the brain behind “The Wedding Party”, “King of Boys”, and “King of Boys: The Return of the King”, and she is one producer who has definitely taken Nollywood to a whole new level.
Her most recent project, the seven-episode limited series that is a sequel to her 2018 film, “King of Boys” was launched on Netflix in August of 2021, and it was a move that delighted a lot of her fans.
To make the launch more interesting, Kemi didn’t actually pitch her work to Netflix, it was the streaming giant who reached out to her to ask if she was planning on making a sequel. Getting a favourable response from Adetiba, Netflix was present to not just license her work, but to buy exclusive streaming rights.
2. Kunle Afolayan:
He is definitely a household name and he is the founder and the CEO of Kunle Afolayan Productions Television (KAPTv) and Golden Effects Pictures.
Kunle has to be a force in Nollywood, especially with his talent and drive that most Nigerians have come to recognize and respect him for. Afolayan has various movies in the highest-grossing film list of the 2000s that prove he is not just a skilful man, he is all about the profits too.
Most of his latest projects can be found on Netflix as the streaming giant has a licensing agreement with Kunle Afolayan’s production company. To be precise, his latest movies, “Swallow” and “Citation” were exclusive to Netflix immediately after their premieres.
3. Funke Akindele Bello:
If Nollywood was a person, it would be Funke Akindele Bello. Known as a talented producer who works tirelessly and effectively, Funke Akindele is the first name on everybody’s lips when it comes to memorable comedy dramas in the Nollywood industry.
Popular for her role as Jenifa in “Jenifa’s Diary”, she has surely earned her right to be regarded as a top-class Nollywood actress, director, producer, and scriptwriter. Her blockbuster, “Omo Ghetto” currently holds the record of becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time in Nigeria, and it shattered the four-year record of Kemi Adetiba’s movie titled “The Wedding Party” in 2016.
The ever-reliable Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) said the film grossed N468,036,300 after maintaining its number one spot for 21 consecutive days. Combine this feat with her deal to license the movie to Netflix and you will see why Funke is a force to reckon with in the Nigerian movie industry.
4. Mo Abudu:
Another Nollywood guru that needs no introduction is Mo. She is the founder of EbonyLife Media, a media conglomerate that is not restricted to EbonyLife Films, a production company popular for giving us films like “Fifty,” “The Wedding Party.” and so on.
In September 2020, Òlòturé was shown on Netflix, a production by Mo Abudu, and the film was centred around the menace that is human trafficking in Nigeria. One year later, September 21, 2021, to be precise, EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television launched “Àló”, a fresh writers initiative that provides a special platform for writers of African heritage.
On November 29, 2021, Mo Abudu was proud to announce that EbonyLife Media penned a development deal with BBC Studios. The deal which was sealed by CAA will cover BBC Studios Drama Productions developing a new action-adventure series with EbonyLife Media, and this move even made Mo enter the Forbes list of 100 most powerful women for 2021.
All this and more might have made Mo Abudu the highest earner from the biggest Nollywood deals in recent times. If she was, we can only say congratulations because she definitely earned it via sheer hard work and dedication to the craft.
Other African Movie Producers You Should Look Out For In 2022:
1. Wanuri Kahiu:
Kahiu is a Kenyan film director and producer who is known for her never drying well of creativity. CNN considers her to be “one of Africa’s most aspiring directors, being part of a new, vibrant crop of talents representing contemporary African culture,” so she must be doing something right.
Her first feature movie, “From a Whisper,” was released in 2008 and it attracted about twelve nominations and earned five awards at the 5th Africa Movie Academy Awards a year later. Other applaudable nominations that made the project stand out include Best Picture Award, Best Screenplay Award, and Best Director Award.
It eventually won in all 3 categories and Wanuri has continued to engage in Africanfuturism to tell the African story in ways they have never been told before. She has produced and directed more than sixteen movies since 2008, including her superb 2018 LGBTQ movie titled “Rafiki,” which went on to become the first Kenyan film to be screened at the 2018 Cannes film festival in France.
Kahiu’s documentary “For Our Land.” also documents Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai, and Wangari’s filmed biography currently plays its part in the popular M-Net series, “The Great Africans.”
2. Chinoye Chukwu:
Her name already gives her away as a Nigerian, but she is actually a Nigerian-American director who is the first black woman to win the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the largest independent US film festival Sundance.
Her latest movie, “Clemency,” details the psychological battles of an executioner, and it definitely triggered a lot of positive responses from those who watched.
Chinoye has clear talents and has been tipped to have a lot more impactful work in the nearest future. Her other movies include “The Dance Lesson”, “The Long Walk” and “Igbo Kwenu!”
3. Bolanle Austen-Peters:
Bolanle is a media and theatre mogul and her projects have gained lots of recognition in London’s West-end, South Africa and Egypt. Her top-notch cinema movies, “93 Days” and “Bling Lagosians” actually got selected for Toronto International Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival years back and many have been fans since then.
She is also the founder and Managing Director of the renowned Arts and Cultural organization, Terra Kulture, the most popular Nigerian Art and Culture centre located in Lagos, Nigeria, and her movie and Theatre company, BAP Productions has masterminded several beautiful musicals in the country, including Moremi The Musical, Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, The Oluronbi Musical and Death and The King’s Horseman.
Bolanle Austen-Peters’ first Netflix original movie, “The Man of God,” is set to be released later this year.
4. Nicole Amarteifio:
Nicole is a popular TV/Film producer who was recently named in The Financial Times’ “Top 25 Africans to Watch” list after she hit it big with her web series titled “An African City.” The project was highly praised by CNN/BBC and it actually hit 1 million views within the first several weeks of its release.
“An African City.” has since been considered one of Ghana’s most successful YouTube channels and in 2018, Nicole released her first feature film, “Before the Vows” at the New York African Film Festival, the American Black Film Festival, the Pan-African Film Festival, Toronto Black Film Festival and the AFI Silver New African Film Festival.