The Nigerian studio that runs Amazon’s African campaign


In 2011, four Nigerian friends – Chinaza Onuzo, Zulumoke Oyibo, Damola Ademola and Omotayo Adeola – came up with the idea of ​​creating a powerful production company, a studio that would produce films for Nigeria and for the world. A decade later, Inkblot Productions signed a deal that will ensure this happens on a larger scale. As part of a new licensing deal with Amazon Prime Video, the global streaming network will have exclusive and worldwide distribution rights for the company’s theatrical list from 2022. The deal also marks the first of its kind that Amazon has signed with a leading African film studio.

As Oyibo said Ok Africa, when they created the company, each of the founders had their own goals. “Chinaza came up with the idea of ​​building an integrated film studio that could attract large-scale global investment. For Ademola, it was about creating content that they thought people would like. “It started out as web series and TV content,” he says. “But Naz [Chinaza] showed us a clear path with movies in theaters. “And that’s what they’ve been doing since: expanding into television and film, and fostering collaborations with other African countries as well.” We initially thought we should get into DVD distribution, but the rise of cinemas and streaming has enabled us to achieve our goals in the more formal part of the industry, ”adds Onuzo.

This growth of Inkblot Productions has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, their romantic comedy The wedding party made a big impression on its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It was the company’s first major foray into participating in an international film festival and reaching audiences abroad. “It has strengthened the power of storytelling and that we can all connect with each other by telling unique and authentic stories, especially those that reflect the realism here and now of our society,” says Ademola.

“Weddings are an important connection point and while people were aware of the importance of weddings, not everyone was aware of the glamor, the food, the colors and all that was associated with Nigerian weddings. and their epic. The wedding party portrays this and spices things up more with the drama. The film also encourages diversity without altering culture – it fosters unity with and among the curious international audiences who are still interested in the film to this day, five years after its premiere. “

With The wedding party, which was directed by Kemi Adetiba, Inkblot also had another movie, a thriller titled Arbitration, at the festival poster. It was a great moment in the life of the production company. “We could never have imagined this in our wildest dreams,” says Ademola. “Like the Nigerian music industry, we felt that we first needed to be accepted and be successful in Nigeria and international acceptance would follow. And it is.”

Founders of Inkblot Productions LR: Damola Ademola, Zulumoke Oyibo and Chinaza Onuzo accompanied by the cast and crew of his latest film “Superstar” during the Inkblot 10 years gala and the premiere of Superstar on December 21, 2021 at Lagos, NigeriaPhoto: Inkblot productions

Over the years, Inkblot has released hit movies in Nollywood – from The new money sseries at The establishment and North – satisfy the appetite of Nigerian viewers. But as Onuzo says, they think these films have something to offer international audiences. “We believe Nigeria is a unique voice that is ready for the global audience,” he said. “The unique culture and heritage spread across more than 300 tribes in Nigeria, coupled with the rich talent in front of and behind the camera, will appeal to international audiences. We have a strong and diverse local industry that is ripe for world domination. The real question is whether the international film space can follow us? ”

The answer will be found soon. As part of the new Amazon deal, Prime Video will launch upcoming Inkblot movies to its global streaming audience of over 200 million Prime members. “Newer versions of Inkblot such as Charge and deposit (released in Nigerian cinemas in October 2021); Super star (our newly premiered film, slated to open in Nigerian cinemas nationwide from December 29, 2021), and The Blood Alliance which we recently completed production, will be seen, ”said Onuzo. Damola adds, “All of our films will be released on Prime Video after their theatrical releases here in Nigeria and that also includes upcoming films such as The establishment 2, Moms at war 2, and new silver 3. “

The deal highlights the value Amazon Prime Video sees in investing in Nigerian and African films, and the interest of streamers in showcasing content from the continent as a way to increase their subscriber base outside of the States. United. It also follows the first African multi-title deal struck last year by another streaming giant, Netflix, with Nigerian producer Mo Abudu’s burgeoning company EbonyLife. “Nollywood is constantly growing and hopefully evolving, ”says Oyibo. “There are a lot of new styles, themes and genres to explore. A new generation of filmmakers is emerging. So this deal is really not just for us at Inkblot alone. This means global reach, a larger market and audience to present our unique stories. We believe so much in the power of collaboration and are confident that this agreement will be the catalyst that will open up more global opportunities to continue to take our films around the world without barriers or limitations. “

Inkblot is excited about the job opportunities the deal will create for more people across the Nollywood value chain – from directors to writers, producers, cinematographers, editors and more. “Most importantly, we hope other production houses and filmmakers will be inspired to see that if we can do it, they too can do it and maybe even better,” Oyibo said.

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