French-Senegalese actor and Lupin star Omar Sy has entered into a television deal with US subscription video-on-demand service HBO Max.
Sy will develop international series with the service, which is part of the newly merged Warner Bros Discovery group.
Announcing the news on Instagram, Sy said: “I am very happy to be partnering with HBO Max who share my dreams of developing globally appealing TV content for audiences around the world, including French-speaking Africa, France and the United States.”
Sy recently signed a multi-year deal with Netflix to develop original feature films. He is also set to co-star in Lionsgate action-thriller Shadow Force and has starred in comedy-drama film The Intouchables, as well as Inferno, Transformers: The Last Knight and The Takedown.
Africa and the Middle East will soon become as important to distributors as North America and Europe, according to Lionsgate’s senior VP of international TV coproductions and acquisitions.
Speaking at the Series Mania conference in Lille, France this week, Marc Lorber highlighted the US-Canadian media company’s work all over the world but added that the two areas were of particular interest to Lionsgate.
“We need to be looking at all emerging territories,” he said, “and the Middle East and Africa are part of that now.
With regards to sub-Saharan Africa, he added: “Most of the money is in Nigeria and South Africa, but Ethiopia is also there as the second largest country. We’ve got key partners in South Africa like pay TV broadcaster M-Net and national broadcaster SABC, with a view to coproducing.”
As for the Middle East, he said: “It’s difficult because they’re singular countries and there are more of them than in the EU. Egypt is still the main production engine in the Middle East but a lot of the money has moved to Qatar in recent years.
“Our company Starz is starting to produce local originals in North Africa and the Middle East for our joint-venture streaming platform StarzPlay. Netflix is also producing there, while Amazon is developing projects there also.”
Lorber also said the regions were becoming more open to content featuring issues such as crime, and that it was a question of understanding and respecting the culture of the authorities and script checkers.
American film studio Lionsgate has acquired the rights to distribute its first Nollywood film, A Soldier’s Story II: Return From the Dead, in North America.
The 2020 blockbuster action movie was produced by Martin Gbados of Lagos- and Maryland-based prodco Mekdoss Productions and directed by Frankie Ogar of Frankie Ogar Films, also based in Lagos. The film is a sequel to the award-winning movie A Soldier’s Story, which premiered in 2018.
A Soldier’s Story II is a tale of love, hope and survival in the face of corruption and a country ravaged by war, according to the producers. The film will be distributed in North America via Lionsgate-backed Strawberry Fields Entertainment.
Strawberry Fields CEO Jamie Webber said the move marked the start of his company working more with Nollywood producers, and he has reportedly also agreed a US$5m budget for the next instalment in the Soldier’s Story franchise.
Gbados announced the Lionsgate deal on Instagram, saying: “A Soldier’s Story 2 gets USA and Canada distribution by Lionsgate across all major streaming platforms. First Nollywood movie distributed by Lionsgate.”
The film was shot in Nigeria and stars Nigerian actors including Daniel K Daniel, Somekele Idalamah, Linda Ejiofor and Tope Tedela.
Gbados added that the film can be watched on streaming services as part of the deal, including Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, Vudu, Amazon Video, Microsoft Store, Comcast Xfinity, FandangoNOW, YouTube, Redbox, DirecTV, Xbox, Redbox and Flixfling.