The impacts of Covid-19 were and are still felt on a global scale. In the months following the first outbreak, a lot of sectors were temporarily shut down. In a bid to slow and contain the spread of the virus, many governments instituted non-essential business closure orders, keeping individuals categorized as essential workers at the frontlines while sending their non-essential counterparts home.
The entertainment industry was considered non-essential and thus, production on movies and TV shows were halted. Funke Akindele was detained by the police because she was allegedly thought to be in violation of the mandate.
Because most people were confined to their homes, they had to seek entertainment in already existing media. This caused a boom in streaming services like Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and so on. It was also during this period that Netflix Naija started to spread its wings; the streaming giant began to make its presence known in Nigeria by licensing popular Nollywood movies from the 2010s to stream on its platform.
It also went further by producing and co-producing newer films. Films like Òlòturé and Citation were acquired by Netflix to stream before they could show in local theatres. It can be assumed that the buzz and the success of films like that encouraged Netflix to partner more with Nigerian producers and directors.
In 2021, as the world slowly forges its way into a new normal, Nigerian producers have taken that opportunity to make up for the lost time – they’ve struck deals and made content that have not only impacted Nigeria’s pop culture, but also the country’s gross domestic product. Some of these producers have become household names and the deals they individually made in 2021, have been nothing impressive. Some of these producers are Kemi Adetiba, Kunle Afolayan, Funke Akindele Bello, and Mo Abudu to name a few.
Kemi Adetiba is a producer, director, and writer. Best known for The Wedding Party, King of Boys, and King of Boys: The Return of the King, Adetiba is one producer that has scored goal after goal. Her latest work, the seven-episode limited series that is a sequel to her 2018 film, King of Boys, was released on Netflix in August of 2021. Interestingly, Adetiba did not pitch to Netflix, she was asked by the streaming giant if she was planning on making a sequel and when she did, Netflix was there to not only license her work but get exclusive streaming rights.
Kunle Afolayan, the founder and the CEO of Kunle Afolayan Productions Television (KAPTv), and Golden Effects Pictures, is a force in Nollywood. He has been able to reach far and wide with his company all thanks to his talent and tenacity. Kunle Afolayan has several films in the highest-grossing film list of the 2000s that show not only his skill for making films but also their profitability. Most of his recent filmography can be found on Netflix, meaning a licensing agreement with Kunle Afolayan’s production company. His latest films, Swallow and Citation are exclusive to Netflix, after their premieres.
Funke Akindele Bello is another producer that works tirelessly. Her forte is comedy-dramas that she often stars in as well. Famously known for her role as Jenifa in Jenifa’s Diary. She is a top-rated Nollywood actress, director, producer, and occasional writer.
Her movie, Omo Ghetto currently holds the record of becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time in Nigeria, breaking the four-year record of Kemi Adetiba’s movie titled ‘The Wedding Party’ in 2016. According to a statement, broadcast by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), in January 2021, the movie grossed N468,036,300 after maintaining its number one spot for 3 consecutive weeks. Combined with her deal to license the movie to Netflix, Funke Akindele struck gold.
Mo Abudu is the founder of EbonyLife Media, a media conglomerate comprising but not limited to EbonyLife Films, a production company responsible for movies like ‘Fifty’ and ‘The Wedding Party’, and more.
In September 2020, Òlòturé premiered on Netflix. Produced by Mo Abudu, the movie was about human trafficking in Nigeria. A year later, on the 21st of September, 2921, EbonyLife and Sony Pictures Television announced Àló, a new writers initiative that offers a unique platform for writers of African heritage.
On the 29th of November, 2021, it was announced that BBC Studios inked a deal with EbonyLife Media for a development deal. The deal, which was brokered by CAA, will see BBC Studios Drama Productions develop a new action-adventure series with EbonyLife Media. Coincidentally, Mo Abudu entered the Forbes list of 100 most powerful women for 2021. All these deals combined might just make Mo Abudu the producer that made the biggest deals of the year.