Amazon Prime Video is looking to Nigeria in search of content. Sources told BMA that it had secured crucial deals with Nigerian production studios – deals that could shake up the industry in Africa’s most prolific filmmaking hub.
For example, inkblot Productions and Anthill Studios have secured exclusive streaming agreements with the US giant in recent months, claiming that the partnerships will fundamentally change the way they operate.
According to Chinaza Onuzo, co-founder of Inkblot Productions, the studio behind local hits “The Wedding Party” and “Up North,” the company has secured a three-year licensing deal that will last until 2024. Inkblot’s forthcoming films will be released on Amazon’s platform following their cinema showings.
“This allows us to plan for the long term,” says Onuzo. Rather than commissioning films one by one, the business is looking into possible intellectual property deals and franchise potential in Inkblot’s current properties. “It has allowed us to diversify the genres that we explore (and) to engage with a broader mix of filmmakers and talents,” he stated.
Anthill Studios is a film and animation studio that has released films such as “Prophetess” and “Day of Destiny” (the latter a co-production with Inkblot). Its films will also be available on Prime Video after a theatrical window, under a multi-year agreement.
“We jumped at the deal,” recalls Niyi Akinmolayan, the company’s founder and creative director. “We’ve nearly doubled our budgets… we have also grown a lot more ambitious in terms of the kinds of stories we want to tell.”
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nigeria’s film industry, dubbed “Nollywood,” produces thousands of films each year, and the country’s entertainment and media market is expected to rise by double digits between 2021 and 2025.
Inkblot’s deal with Amazon in December 2021 was the first of its kind between the streaming behemoth and an African studio. The Anthill agreement was announced a month later.
Anthill’s Akinmolayan, a film director, says Amazon has so far remained hands-off. He adds, “They’re not telling you what kind of films to do.” “They have no say in the creative process, which appeals to any filmmaker.”