Animated fantasy web series League of Orishas, created by Nollywood filmmaker Niyi Akinmolayan, is set to debut on Anthill Studios’ YouTube channel.
The show, inspired by various west African mythologies and set in a time when gods, supernatural beings, humans and strange beasts all co-exist, debuts on September 11.
Anthill founder and MD Akinmolayan worked with Nigerian animator Eri Umusu (Day of Destiny, The Wedding Party) to produce the show.
The first episode, titled Ajanaku, follows the chief of the mighty forest hunters who has a score to settle with Ogun, the god of iron. New episodes will debut on a monthly basis.
Akinmolayan said: “At Anthill Studios, we love animation and the magic of creating amazing characters and worlds. New episodes would be aired every month that gradually unfolds the story and you can be part of the storytelling as well.”
Nollywood producers Femi Adebayo and Niyi Akinmolayan have partnered to produce a slate of Yoruba movies.
Their first project is Ogundabede – King of Thieves, which will be produced by Adebayo and Akinmolayan’s respective production companies, Euphoria 360 and Anthill Studios.
The film was shot in Nigeria’s Oyo state and is an epic tale of the kingdom of Ajeromi. In the film, the kingdom is being terrorised by a band of thieves led by a powerful bandit named Ageshinkole. Concerned by his pillaging, the kingdom moves to destroy him using hunters, witches and priests, thus beginning a saga of revenge, bravery and glory.
The film is directed by Adebayo Tijani and will be distributed by Film One Entertainment. The cast includes Adebayo himself alongside Odunlade Adekola, Adebayo Salami, Joke Muyiwa, Toyin Abraham, Lateef Adedimeji, Ibrahim Chatta, Peju Ogunmola, Dele Odule, Broda Shaggi, Kunle Afod, Mr Macaroni and Aisha Lawal.
According to Akinmolayan, the deal between Euphoria 360 and Anthill Studios will see the studios combine talent, distribution, marketing and post-production resources to create projects for multiple platforms.
He said: “It is important for the industry to scale. There is no industry in the world where scale happens without collaboration. And when this collaboration happens, both parties have understood where their strength lies and must set out to then combine these strengths to not only push boundaries but also break old milestones and achieve new ones to inspire the next generation of creators.
“Anthill never fails to deliver technical and creative expertise. We are also good with marketing, post-production, delivery on budget and VFX. Our partner Euphoria 360, on the other hand, has access to a trove of Yoruba stories with actors, locations and everything that makes a story work, including their fan base.
“All of these combined resources and more is what makes this partnership a solid one, and we are happy to showcase our first project from this slate, Ogundabede – King of Thieves.”
The theatrical release date for Ogundabede – King of Thieves is set for April 8.
Global streaming service Netflix has lined up two more Nollywood films this festive season.
A Naija Christmas, which will debut on December 16, is the story of three brothers who scramble to find wives they can bring home by Christmas. Meanwhile, their mom sets out to host the most beautiful Christmas celebration ever. The movie stars Rachel Oniga, Kunle Remi and Segilola Ogidan.
Chief Daddy 2: Going for Broke, which is available from January 1, is the sequel to 2018 Nollywood comedy Chief Daddy, made by Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Films.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, it stars Funke Akindele-Bello, Shaffy Bello, Kate Henshaw, Joke Silva, Rachael Oniga, Ini Edo, Patience Ozokwo, Nkem Owoh, Beverly Osu and Beverly Naya.
Abudu took to Instagram to announce the news, saying: “Come January 1, 2022, the Beecrofts are returning with more family drama, more secrets, more laughs and even more fun and entertainment.”
A number of Nollywood movies will premiere in cinemas in the months to come, including The Ghost & the Tout Too (September 10), Fool’s Day (September 24) and The Progressive Tailors Club (October 29).
The Ghost & the Tout Too is a movie by Toyin Abraham Ajeyemi that tells the story of a young woman who grew up in a ghetto and meets a ghost after an unfortunate incident. It is the sequel to 2018 film The Ghost & the Tout.
The movie stars Toyin Abraham, Mercy Johnson, Osas Ighodaro, Adedimeji Lateef and Ini Edo. Abraham announced the news of the release on Instagram.
Fool’s Day, meanwhile, is directed by Tunde Olaoye and produced by Nigerian director and filmmaker Olufemi Oke, who took to Instagram to say: “One location, one-day family chaos! So much loud, so much crazy. You don’t want to miss this I promise you.”
The film stars Broda Shaggy, Tina Mba, Omowumi Dada, Tunji Sotimirin, Iyabo Ojo and Michael Okoli.
Lastly, The Progressive Tailors Club is a satire about community politics produced by Anthill Studios, directed by Biodun Stephen and executive produced by Nigerian filmmaker Niyi Akinmolayan. The cast includes Rachael Oniga, Adedimeji Lateef, Bolaji Ogunmola, Uzor Arukwe and Blessing Jessica Obasi.
2019 Nigerian thriller movie Elevator Baby, directed by Akay Mason and produced by Niyi Akinmolayan, has been remade into an Indian version titled Thank You Brother.
The Telugu-language film is written and directed by Ramesh Raparthi and tells the story of a spoiled brat, played by Viraj Aswin, who wastes his mother’s money on his party lifestyle. His life is changed, however, when he gets stuck in an elevator with a pregnant woman (Anasuya Bharadwaj) and helps deliver the baby.
Akinmolayan’s production company Anthill Studios announced the news on Instagram, saying: “Elevator Baby the movie that keeps giving!!! When we made Elevator Baby, we were taking a big step for ourselves as a company as this was going to be our first cinema movie. And also Akay Mason’s directorial debut. We took a chance on faith and it paid off bountifully. A year later we get a call from Raparthi in India that they loved Elevator Baby and they’d love to remake it.”
The original Nigerian movie won awards in the Best Actress (Toyin Abraham) and Best Actor (Timini Egbuson) categories at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards last year.
The latest feature film from Nigerian filmmaker Niyi Akinmolayan, titled Prophetess, will launch in cinemas on April 2.
The movie, produced by Victoria Teimere Akujobi, Mimidoo Bartels and Matilda Sola and directed by Akinmolayan, tells the story of a prophetess who makes a bogus prediction about a football match that sets off a chain of events beyond her control.
Writing on Instagram, Akinmolayan’s production company, Anthill Studios, said: “Take chances! See you in cinemas April 2, nationwide. Prophetess is going to be a sweet film.”
The movie stars Nollywood actors including Toyin Abraham, Kehinde Bankole, Kunle Remi, Ronke Ojo, Tina Mba, Stan Nze, Uzor Arukwe, Deyemi Okanlanwon, Seyi Awolowo, Blessing Jessica Obasi and Adedimeji Lateef.
Akinmolayan is best known for directing the highest grossing Nigerian film of all time, The Wedding Party 2. He has also directed movies including Make a Move, Falling, Out of Luck, PlayThing and The Arbitration.
Global streamer Netflix has added EbonyLife’s legal drama Castle & Castle to its line-up of Nollywood content.
Directed by Tope Oshin, Niyi Akinmolayan and Kenneth Gyang, the series follows a happy couple, Remi (Dakore Egbuson-Akande) and Tega (Richard Mofe-Damijo), who run a successful legal firm in Lagos.
Business and marriage often clash when the couple are on opposite sides of the law. Remi prefers to work with affluent clients while Tega is zealous about pro bono cases that impact society.
The show stars Dakore Egbuson-Akande, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Eku Edewor, Deyemi Okanlawon, Etim Effiong, Dorcas Shola Fapson and media personality Denola Grey.
The show is one of EbonyLife films’ TV Afropolitan projects which reflect African issues, contemporary African life and African drama generally. It will be available on Netflix from Friday February 14.
The news comes after Netflix licensed EbonyLife female-led drama Fifty, about four women who are approaching 50 years of age, as well as previous acquisitions of Crazy, Lovely, Cool and Sons of the Caliphate.
Animation is an often-neglected part of Nigeria’s media industry but this is beginning to change, delegates at Nigeria International Television (NITV) Summit heard.
In a roundtable discussion at the Wednesday event, studio heads and animators discussed the uniqueness of the animation industry as well as the challenges.
Speakers included Mbuotidem Johnson, CEO of Basement Animation; Ayodele Elegba, CEO of Spoof Animation; Kola Olarewaju, CEO at Komotion Studios; and Niyi Akinmolayan, CEO of Anthill Studios. The session was moderated by Somto Ajuluchukwu, MD of C3 African Network.
Highlighting the challenges facing the industry, panelists agreed that one of the major issues is electrical power, saying that the use of high-powered computers and other technology necessitates constant light, which is costly in Nigeria.
According to Akinmolayan, talent is also difficult to come by because there are no training schools in Nigeria, so it falls on the animation studios to train animators, which is a long and costly process.
“Finding the right person to do your job is not easy because there are no qualified people and no training schools. Therefore, that responsibility lies on us, so we train and do the job simultaneously because that is the best tactic,” he said.
Agreeing with this, Johnson, who is also the founder of trade body Animation Nigeria, said: “I came from a background of 3D animation but as I considered my options, I switched to 2D. With 2D I can finish a project and train faster. Within a month a trained person can execute 2D renderings well enough, but 3D takes about five to six months of training and you’ve hardly begun.
“Finding investors is also one of the hardest thing to do. So to stay in this industry you have to do things in unusual ways.”
For Akinmolayan, director of The Wedding Party, the right approach to sustaining an animation studio is to get other jobs to keep the cash flowing.
“Do something on the side. I make money as a film director. If you call me to do wedding videos, I will do it. Anything to keep the money flowing in, because animation is a long-term investment and I’m not giving up.”
Olarewaju highlighted the issue of religion and animation. “When we did [short film] Sango, many people said it was fetish. They liked it but would badmouth it because of their religion. They do not see it as a work of art but as something fetish, which is mostly how Nigerians react to something out of the norm,” he said.
“The audience demand in the international market and here in Nigeria varies. Animation in the international market is often created for younger audiences, for under-nines, or nine- to 13-year-olds. However, here it appeals more to adults, so to break the market in Nigeria we are often forced to create content for adults, which is kind of restricting,” said Johnson.
Elegba, also founder of Lagos Comic Con (LCC), advised on the right strategy for getting investors. “If you are only thinking of how good your content is, you will run down,” he said. “You have to think of the business side – think distribution, coproduction, and more.”
LCC, of which Content Nigeria is a media partner, takes place at the Landmark Centre, VI, Lagos on September 15.
Legal drama series Castle & Castle will air exclusively on EbonyLife’s VoD service EbonyLife ON from July 1.
Billed as the first legal TV drama in Nigeria, the show centres on a family who struggle to remain united and keep the family law firm running despite numerous challenges.
It is produced by Isioma Osaje and Temidayo Abudu, and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, Tope Oshin and Kenneth Gyang.
The series features the likes of Richard Mofe Damijo, Dakore Akande, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Denola Grey, Eku Edewor, Deyemi Okanlawon, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Dorcas Shola Fapson, Ade Laoye, Diipo Ayo-Adeusi and Anee Icha.
EbonyLife TV focuses on a pan-African audience, creating original TV series and films such as Fifty The Series, The Governor and Sons of Caliphate. Launched in December 2017, EbonyLife ON aims to provide the network’s services to a global audience.
Nollywood actress Adesuwa Etomi is voicing the lead role in new Nigerian animated series Malika: Warrior Queen.
Written by Roye Okupe, founder of YouNeek Studios, and produced by Niyi Akinmolayan of Anthill Studios, the series is an adaptation of the graphic novel by Okupe which was published in 2016.
It is the story of a strong black African queen fighting for her kingdom, which is under threat of invasion by foreign cultures. The story is inspired by the 12th century Oyo empire although the characters are fictional.
According to Okupe: “You basically get to see how an African queen lived her life back then.
“I have to give credit again to Niyi, who’s also the director of the highest-grossing movie in Lagos, The Wedding Party 2. We discussed about who we would like to bring to this and Adesua was the first person I had on my mind to voice it. Not only is she a huge star, she’s also super-talented. After both of us went through the proper channels to present the idea to her, she basically said it would be a dream for her to do it.”
Other Nollywood actors taking speaking roles include Femi Branch (Chief Dogbari), Deyemi Okanlowon (the Windmaker and King Bass), Blossom Chukwujekwu (Abdul) and Sambassa Nzeribe (General Ras).
The series, which will be produced in Nigeria, consists of episodes featuring three scenes with a total runtime of 15 minutes.
Etomi has starred in movies including The Wedding Party, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, The Arbitration and Couple of Days and she won the Best Actress prize at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards for her role in 2015 film Falling.
“I hope that YouNeek Studios and all the other studios in Nigeria and Africa as a whole can start to bridge this gap between acquisition and trying to tell our stories through Nollywood as much as we’re doing it through Hollywood,” Okupe said.
New Nigerian TV series Castle & Castle, billed as the country’s first legal drama series, has gone into production, reports Gabriella Opara.
Scheduled to begin airing exclusively on broadcaster EbonyLife TV from July 2018, the legal drama is the first of its kind in Nigeria, according to the network. EbonyLife is also promising A-list local stars.
Produced by Temidayo Abudu and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, Tope Oshin and Kenneth Gyang, the series stars Richard Mofe-Damijo and Dakore Egbuson-Akande, best known for their big-screen Nollywood roles.
Castle & Castle is about a married couple of 20 years who run a successful law firm together. Despite their successes, Remi Castle (Egbuson-Akande) and Tega Castle (Mofe-Damijo) reach a crossroads where their legal interests become conflicted and their marriage is put to the test.
EbonyLife said the casting of two top Nollywood stars in the TV series was “a bold move” and “reflects the current trend in Hollywood, where A-list movie actors are switching to television.” The series looks set to be the most talked about TV series in Nigeria next year.
“It is a pleasure to see the concept coming to life and we look forward to showing the finished product next year,” says Abudu. “Working with such a professional cast and crew is making the filming process quite smooth. We hope that viewers will get hooked on this complex and interesting show.”
Some of EbonyLife’s other original productions include dramas The Governor, which chronicles the struggles of the first female governor in Nigeria; Fifty, a series adaptation of the 2015 movie that follows four women in their fifties in Lagos; and Sons of the Caliphate, a drama about feuding political families in northern Nigeria.