Nollywood filmmaker Kunle Afolayan, CEO of Lagos production studios Golden Effects Pictures and KAP Productions, has announced the production of a new series titled Aníkúlápó.
Afolayan, whose credits include Crazy People and award-winning movies Irapada and October 1, took to his Instagram page to say: “It is official that [the] Aníkúlápó series is happening.”
In 2021, Afolayan signed a three-picture deal with global streamer Netflix. Swallow, the big-screen adaption of Sefi Atta’s book of the same name, was the first to be released in October 2021, followed by Aníkúlápó, an epic Nigerian fantasy launched in September 2022.
Now, according to the director’s social media post, the latter is spinning off into a series. Aníkúlápó has been described as Game of Thrones recreated in Nigeria and representing Yoruba culture.
Aníkúlápó is a period drama telling the story of a man who leaves his hometown to search for a better life only to find himself entangled in a dangerous love affair with the king’s wife.
The cast includes Kunle Remi, Taiwo Hassan, Bimbo Ademoye, Sola Sobowale and Hakeem Kae-Kazim.
US Latino-owned entertainment company Fuse Media has launched its flagship Fuse channel in South Africa through a carriage deal with new subscription-based TV platform Ultraview.
Fuse is now part of SA-based distributor Openview’s pay TV service and will deliver original series, films and documentaries for young, culturally diverse viewers. Titles include the upcoming Big Freedia Means Business and Sex Sells, hosted by WeezyWTF.
The expansion of Fuse Media into South Africa follows international launches on connected TV platforms such as Pluto TV Canada, Samsung TV Plus Europe and LG UK. The move also comes soon after SVoD service Fuse+ launched in India on the OTTPlay platform.
“We are proud that Fuse is expanding into South Africa for the first time ever on Openview’s compelling new Ultraview service,” said Miguel Roggero, chairman and CEO of New York-based Fuse Media. “Our inclusion confirms that Fuse’s mission to deliver uplifting content for culturally diverse viewers has global appeal. We’re looking forward to connecting with even more young, multicultural audiences around the world.”
Fuse Media includes Fuse, Fuse+, Backstage, Shades of Black, FM (Fuse Music), Fuse Sweat, FuseTV and Fuse Content Studio, its in-house production arm, as well as a branded content and live events business.
Three new Nollywood movies will debut in cinemas this month and the next, namely Different Strokes (March 31), Domitilla: The Reboot (April 7) and The Two Aishas (April 24).
Different Strokes is the story of four friends with one goal but achieving it will take more than they expected. It stars Mercy Johnson, Shaffy Bello, Deyemi Okanlawon, Lilian Esoro, Jim Iyke and Adedimeji Lateef.
The movie is produced by Ayaba Oduoye, directed by Biodun Stephen and distributed by FilmOne Entertainment.
Domitilla: The Reboot is directed by Nigerian filmmaker Zeb Ejiro and looks into the world of sex workers and the unexpected twists and turns they face. The cast includes Stan Eze, Deyemi Okanlawon and Teniola Aladese.
It is a reboot of 1996 film Domitilla, produced by Zeb Productions, FilmOne Entertainment and Kayode Kasum’s FilmTrybe.
Lastly, The Two Aishas follows two friends who are not the typical friends – they share the same faith and social status but have very different behaviours, characteristics, parental upbringing and demeanor.
The cast include Rahama Sadau, Paul Utomi, Akeem Ogara, Shushu Abubakar and Florence Uwaleke. The film is produced by Arabel Productions and distributed by FilmOne Entertainment.
Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures and Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Media have partnered to develop a slate of television and film projects together to “empower and uplift” talent from Africa and its diaspora.
The two prodcos said in a joint statement that the partnership aims to build capacity and foster “authentic representation in global film and TV projects set for production.”
They have committed to launching as-yet-undisclosed education and mentoring initiatives through the partnership to help foster what they call “the lost generation” and a new generation of creative professionals, showcasing their skills and telling their stories to the world.
Elba and Abudu said they aim to nurture a more inclusive and diverse media landscape, where stories from Africa and its diaspora are given the same level of attention and respect as other cultures and communities.
The two have called on industry leaders globally, the wider public sector, governments and multilateral agencies to help them grow talent globally and build capacity around the continent of Africa.
EbonyLife will use its creative academy in Lagos, Nigeria, to empower African talent and the partnership will support graduates from the programme.
The two companies are working on a joint development slate of stories originating out of Africa or set in the diaspora as feature films and TV series for the global market.
Since 2018, EbonyLife Media has secured several coproduction deals with international studios, including Sony Pictures Television, Netflix, Will and Jada Smith’s Westbrook Studios, BBC Studios, Starz and Lionsgate.
Green Door Pictures’ credits include Hijack for Apple TV+, Sky One comedy In the Long Run, Netflix comedy series Turn Up Charlie and Idris Elba’s Fight School, a four-part documentary series for the BBC.
Actor, producer, director and musician Elba said: “I have always been passionate about using my platform to make a positive impact. By partnering with Mo, we aim to offer free, world-class industry education to the next generation of storytellers and bring their authentic voices to the forefront. This partnership is a step towards creating a more inclusive and diverse media landscape, one that represents the voices and experiences of Africa and its diaspora around the world.”
EbonyLife Media founder Abudu said: “We believe that Africa has the talent and the stories to captivate the world. It’s our mission to offer the best in industry education, mentorship and production opportunities, so that our graduates can become valuable contributors to the global media landscape. We plan to hit the ground running and explore the very best that African and black stories have to offer global audiences.”
Short film collection African Folktales Reimagined is set to launch globally on streaming platform Netflix on March 29.
The collection is the result of Netflix, in partnership with UNESCO, organising a short-film competition last year with the goal of promoting diverse local stories and bringing them to the world. Six winners emerged.
The collection features a variety of African on-screen talent in stories by African storytellers. The stories are Enmity Djinn by Mohamed Echkouna from Mauritania; Katope by Walt Mzengi Corey from Tanzania; Halima’s Choice by Korede Azeez from Nigeria; Anyango & the Ogre by Voline Ogutu from Kenya; Katera of the Punishment Island by Loukman Ali from Uganda; and MaMlambo by Gcobisa Yako from South Africa.
The filmmakers were mentored by Bongiwe Selane, Jenna Bass, Pape Boye, Femi Odugbemi, Leila Afua Djansi and Tosh Gitonga, who provided guidance and nurtured them on their journey to bring their stories to life.
Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for culture, said: “UNESCO is proud to present the tales of Africa, reimagined by its emerging, homegrown talent. At the crossroads of tradition, innovation, heritage and creativity, African expressions in the 21st century are as diverse and dynamic as its people.
‘The UNESCO-Netflix partnership represents our shared commitment to the audiovisual industries of Africa, which have the potential to generate US$20bn in revenues annually. African creativity is a force for sustainable development, and we cannot wait for the audiences around the world to feel its unstoppable energy.”
Tendeka Matatu, Netflix’s director of film in Africa, added: “We are excited to finally bring this anthology of short films created by the next generation of African storytellers to Netflix members around the world. This initiative is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the pipeline of African storytelling and to include voices from underrepresented communities.
“We’re grateful to our partners at UNESCO who walked this journey with us to provide an opportunity for the six emerging African filmmakers to create and showcase their reimagined folktales to the world, in their own languages, so that more people can see their lives reflected on screen.”
Nigerian animation house Magic Carpet Studio has unveiled its new 3D animated miniseries, titled Legends of Bulan.
Legends of Bulan is a fictional saga inspired by the history and chronicles of past African heroes.
Lagos-based Magic Carpet described it as “an epic journey into the millennials before our time. It explores retrofuturism as a sub-genre and its cinematic thrill is a hypnotic blend of immersive African culture, modern imagination and technology.”
Ferdy Ladi Adimefe, CEO of the studio, announced the show as part of a pipeline of stories curated for the next few years.
They include period romantic thriller The Passport of Mallam Ilia, adapted from the 1960 novel by Nigerian author Cyprion Ekwensi, and sitcom Meet the Igwes, about “a family trapped in a class war,” said Adimefe.
“I grew up watching animated content created by big companies like DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar and Cartoon Network and we are here to share some of the biggest stories with the rest of the world. Africa is sitting on a treasure trove of stories yet untold,” he said.
“In Legends of Bulan, legends at war need to unite to face their greatest enemy. It was created from history, culture, African mythology all the way to Timbuktu and the Zulu, Asante and Oyo empires.
“From lovable characters to breathtaking landscapes and thrilling action, our talented team of animators bring the amazing story to life with cutting-edge technology and unparalleled artistry.”
Sight of Flavors, a Nigerian TV show mixing food with travel, will debut on television next month.
The show will see Nollywood actor Jemima Osunde give random fans a treat of a lifetime with all-expense paid trips to different locations across Nigeria.
With the aim of discovering the most heartwarming, comforting and satisfying foods and tourism hotspots in Nigeria, Osunde is seemingly writing her own version of the 2018 US movie Green Book by highlighting African tourism hotspots, foods, fashion and culture.
According to Osunde, the TV show will explore the big cities, small towns and remote villages while the 13 selected fans will learn about these destinations in a whole new light, see the people and their lives closer than ever, and also enjoy their favourite food with all senses.
“From the offbeat, local hotspots in your city to hidden gems around the continent, Sight of Flavors will take you on a culinary joyride around Africa,” she said.
Sight of Flavors is sponsored by online restaurant My Eatery Nigeria and will air from April 22 on Nigerian broadcasters including NTA, ABS Akwa, ITV Abuja, TVC and ROK.
A cross-cultural Nollywood-Bollywood series titled Postcards has wrapped production and will launch soon.
Hamisha Daryani-Ahuja, executive producer at Lagos-based prodco Forever7 Entertainment, worked with Nollywood actors on the project.
No details about the storyline are available but the series was shot in India and stars Nigerian actors including Sola Sobowale, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Nancy Isime and Rahama Sadau.
“When I embarked on this journey to film a cross-cultural series, I knew it would be a brand-new experience working with a multicultural crew while filming in two cities: Lagos and Mumbai. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I had built the courage to go through with the vision planted in my mind and heart.
“As I reflect on the past two months of production, I’m glad to say that we’re making a masterpiece. Not only are we making a series with a solid storyline, and production quality, we’re working with a culturally diverse crew and cast – something that I was told would be challenging. Challenging yes, but we’re doing it!”
The debut date and platform partner for Postcards is yet to be announced.
Mo Abudu, CEO of Nigeria’s EbonyLife Media, has been selected to serve on the grand jury at the Banff World Media Festival, which is slated to be held in June.
Abudu will have the opportunity to review and evaluate some of the best content from around the world at the Canadian event, alongside senior executives from the BBC, Universal, DreamWorks, Starz and Entertainment One, as part of the event’s Rockie Awards.
“The Rockie Awards are an important recognition of excellence in storytelling, and it is an honour to be a part of the process that determines the coveted Grand Jury Prize. Our collective voices and opinions will contribute to shaping the narrative of global storytelling,” said Abudu.
“I am proud to be part of a group of professionals that are committed to recognising outstanding work and fostering creativity in the media industry. This is an incredible opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves and make a meaningful impact.”
The Banff World Media Festival is an international event held in the Canadian Rockies that is dedicated to world television and digital content and its creation and development. It honours excellence in international TV and professionals from around the world participate in seminars, masterclasses and pitching opportunities.
Charles Okpaleke, the multi-award-winning Nigerian filmmaker and founder of Play Network, has acquired IP rights to Nollywood classic Karishika.
The 1996 Nigerian horror film, directed by Christian Onu, tells the story of a girl who was sent by Lucifer into the world to kill, destroy and tempt people in order to increase the population in hell.
Okpaleke took to Instagram to say: “Karishika is back… I’m putting together a team of horror filmmakers… with relevant skills that I can work with. I acquired the IP rights to Karishika and I wish to work with creatives specialised in horror films.”
Details about Okpaleke’s plans for Karishika are yet to be announced, but the expectation is that a remake or spin-off is on the cards.
Reboots are a key part of Play Network’s content strategy after Okpaleke acquired the IP rights to 1992 Nollywood hit Living in Bondage to produce a sequel in 2015. In 2020, Okpaleke also remade 1995 thriller Rattlesnake as Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story.
Nigerian-American actor Chinaza Uche and British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo are set to star in a new Apple TV+ drama series called Silo.
The 10-episode series is based on Hugh Howey’s New York Times bestselling trilogy of dystopian novels of the same name that were initially published via Amazon’s Kindle platform in 2011 and later by Simon & Schuster.
The cast also includes Rebecca Ferguson (Dune, Mission Impossible, The Greatest Showman), Common, Harriet Walter, Avi Nash, Rashida Jones and Tim Robbins. The show will debut on May 5.
The books tell the story of the last 10,000 people on Earth who live in a silo a mile underground to escape the toxic and deadly world outside. However, nobody knows when or why the silo was built and anyone who tries to find out faces fatal consequences.
Silo is produced by LA-based AMC Studios, executive produced by Graham Yost (Justified, Speed, The Americans), Howey, Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game, Passengers) and Ferguson, alongside Nina Jack, Fred Golan, Rémi Aubuchon and Ingrid Escajeda.
LGBTQ+ broadcaster and streaming service OUTtv has launched a linear channel in South Africa after running successful pop-up channels in the country in 2018 and 2020.
The 24-hour pay TV channel is now available on Openview Ultra in South Africa and features originals such as Call Me Mother, Hot Haus and GoGo for the Gold.
Also available on OUTtv is British quirky makeover series Drag SOS and reality dating show Finding Prince Charming.
The channel additionally houses documentary strand OutSpoken, featuring a series of one-hour documentaries made by a mix of new and established LGBTQ+ filmmakers.
OUTtv is available in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand via OUTtv.com and various OTT providers. Its broadcast channel is also available on Canadian cable and satellite services.
Brad Danks, CEO of OUTtv, said: “We want to bring OUTtv’s original, life-affirmingly queer content to communities across the globe, and we’re excited to now have a permanent home in South Africa with Openview, after two successful limited runs in the territory. We know this market is ready for diverse, inclusive storytelling, and we look forward to making our content available.”
London-based producer and coproduction specialist Envision Entertainment is developing an action-comedy crime procedural in partnership with South African prodco Scene23.
Tighthead is a Cape Town-based project that revolves around an unlikely crime-fighting duo: a white former Springbok rugby star turned shady fixer and a mixed-race junior policeman who has sharp deductive reasoning but terrible social skills.
The two must come together to clear their names when they are both implicated in a murder they did not commit. The show will follow the pair investigating crimes within South Africa’s international sports community.
South African author and screenwriter Fred Strydom, author of novels The Raft and The Inside Out Man, is writing the show, which is based on a format created by Envision founder Michael Nakan, with “substantial input” from Tim Theron, co-founder and creative director at Scene23, the producers said.
Nakan previously co-created the format for Envision’s Connected, the Nippon TV series that was a hit in Japan and has been optioned for a US remake by Tomorrow Studios.
David Barron, global head of scripted at Envision, said: “South Africa is an incredibly diverse country: a mix of cultures, races and viewpoints. Our ambition is to create an international crime franchise with a uniquely South African identity, wrapped in a fun and accessible package.”
Theron added: “South Africa has many strengths. Prominent among these are both our cultural diversity and a love of sport. These two aspects have been intertwined for some of biggest moments in the country’s history.”
African video-on-demand service Showmax and the organisers of the Joburg Film Festival have partnered to issue an open call for African movie pitches for a slate of 10 live-action films.
The move is aimed at finding new talent and opening up the African film industry, according to the partners. The search is on for authentic stories in popular genres like romcoms, family dramas and thrillers that resonate with local audiences.
The proposals must have a first-draft screenplay and be set in contemporary Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa, with a first-time director attached who is a resident or citizen in one of those countries.
Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Showmax and connected video at parent company MultiChoice, said: “Showmax’s audience prefers local content, with seven of the 10 most-streamed titles in South Africa, eight of the top 10 titles in Kenya and Nigeria and nine of the top 10 in Ghana last year being African.
“Making your first film is a key turning point in any director’s career. So this brief is another way we are trying to empower local filmmakers to tell their own stories for their own communities in their own languages.
According to the streaming service, which is now 30% owned by NBCUniversal, the selected projects will be announced in the second half of 2023 and screened on Showmax in 50 countries across sub-Saharan Africa in 2024.
Entries close on April 1. Click here to submit a proposal.
South African pay TV group MultiChoice has partnered with Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky to relaunch its streaming service Showmax in sub-Saharan Africa.
The new Showmax group will be 70% owned by MultiChoice and 30% by NBCUniversal following the partnership, through which the two companies will aim to make Showmax the leading streaming service in Africa. In Nigeria, NBCUniversal will hold an indirect 23.7% stake in the local subsidiary.
MultiChoice, which has a footprint across 50 markets in sub-Saharan Africa, will gain access to the same technology that powers NBCUniversal’s streamer Peacock, with NBCUniversal and Sky providing “ongoing support through the licensing of both technology and content.”
The streamer will feature local content and originals from MultiChoice and its channels including Mzansi Magic, Africa Magic and Maisha Magic, alongside international content licensed from NBCUniversal and Sky, plus third-party content from HBO, Warner Bros International, Sony and others, as well as live English Premier League football.
MultiChoice said the new streamer comes as Africa is approaching an inflection point in terms of broadband connectivity and affordability. Further details about the new Showmax service, including launch date, content and pricing, will be announced at a later date.
Calvo Mawela, CEO of MultiChoice, said: “We launched Showmax as the first African streaming service in 2015 and are extremely proud of its success to date. This agreement represents a great opportunity for our Showmax team to scale even greater heights by working with a leading global player in Comcast and its subsidiaries.
“The new business venture deepens an already strong relationship and builds on the Sky Glass technology partnership that we announced in September last year. We believe we are extremely well positioned to create a winning platform going forward.”
Dana Strong, group CEO at Sky, added: “This new collaboration in streaming and content with MultiChoice, NBCUniversal and Sky takes our partnership to the next level in one of the world’s most vibrant, fastest-growing markets. Last year, we announced MultiChoice as a customer of the Sky Glass platform and now we are excited to help innovate its Showmax streaming service.”
Matt Strauss, chairman of direct-to-consumer and international at NBCUniversal, said: “This partnership is an incredible opportunity to further scale the global presence of Peacock’s world-class streaming technology, as well as to introduce millions of new customers to extensive premium content from NBCUniversal and Sky’s stellar entertainment brands.”
Netflix is lining up its next African drama, six-part crime thriller Unseen from Gambit Films, the South African production powerhouse behind 2020 mystery series Blood & Water.
Unseen tells the story of a nondescript domestic worker who goes in search of her missing husband and comes up against powerful and violent criminals. Her reaction to the danger she faces show’s she is not as timid as she initially seems.
Starring Gail Mabalane, the series also includes a long list of South African actors such as Rapulana Seiphemo, Vuyo Dabula, Colin Moss, Shimmy Isaacs and Dineo Langa.
The show was created by Travis Taute and Daryne Joshua; and the writers are Sean Drummond, Meesha Aboo and Tristram Atkins. Bradley Joshua is exec producing and Benjamin Overmeyer is producing.
The series set to premiere on Netflix on March 29.
Multichoice-owned channel MNet in South Africa has commissioned a crime thriller series starring Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) called White Lies.
The eight-parter is a coproduction between MNet, South African prodco Quizzical Pictures and Fremantle, which is also handling distribution.
Dormer plays a journalist who investigates the murder of her estranged brother in Cape Town but finds herself at loggerheads with a veteran detective played by Brendon Daniels (Four Corners).
Filming is set to begin in South Africa next week, with Dormer, Julie Hodge and creator Darrel Bristow-Bovey as executive producers.
“International coproductions are an exciting strategy that MNet has explored in recent years,” said Nomsa Philiso, CEO general entertainment at MultiChoice Group. “We’re pleased to continue exploring new, more global ways of telling our stories to a large audience.”
Multichoice’s African streaming service Showmax and DStv channel Mzansi Magic will launch telenovela Umkhokha: The Curse next month.
The first season of faith-based drama Umkhokha aired in 2021 and follows two families fighting over a church after the leader dies.
Umkhokha: The Curse takes us to the beginning of the story and reveals how the fictional mega-church, Ithempeli Lenkosi, became a deadly battleground.
The cast includes Deli Malinga, Sibonile Ngubane, Nay Maps, Hope Mbhele, Gcinile Nkosi and Daniel Hadebe.
The show premieres on Multichoice pay TV group M-Net’s Mzansi Magic DStv channel and on Showmax on March 6.
Shirley Adonisi, director of local entertainment channels at M-Net, said: “It’s always a positive conundrum when viewers express that a show was on air for too short a time, and that was the overwhelming reaction we were met with when Umkhokha came to an end after 13 weeks.
“Audiences were glued to the show and constantly engaged with the story and spoke about it on social media and on the radio – so its return is long-awaited. We’re pleased that it will now be a telenovela.”
The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) have agreed a partnership aimed at preserving African languages.
The deal comes shortly after the official launch of SABC’s 24-hour news channel, which will be broadcast in all official African languages.
According to the SABC, the deal positions it as the only broadcaster committed to preserving African languages.
Moshoeshoe Monare, SABC group executive for news and current affairs, said: “As a public broadcaster, SABC has a mandate and obligation to promote, preserve and protect indigenous languages. We do this through ensuring that all our programming, be it in news, sports and entertainment, is multilingual and it is within this context that our collaboration with PANSALB is long overdue.”
The partnership with the SABC will “create a platform for language development and foster multi-lingualism,” added CEO of the language board, Lance Schultz.
PANSALB chairperson Professor Makhubu Bardenhost said: “It’s very important that when people take news, whether it’s education or anything, or we communicate with anybody at home, whether they are cooking in their own home and so on, we use the person’s language.”