to start your promotional tour across the continent ahead of the African premiere of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” director Ryan Coogler and stars Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Tenoch Huerta and Winston Duke touched down in Lagos, Nigeria, on 6 of November. .
The splashy premiere was just the latest sign that the center of the West African nation’s prodigious Nollywood film industry is central to Hollywood’s plans for the continent, and recent years have seen heavy investment in Nigerian production. from studios including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and Sony Pictures Television.
Plans are now afoot to build two world-class studio complexes in Lagos, which their local and foreign backers hope will attract big-budget international productions to Nigeria. If the tactic pays off, Coogler & Co. will return to Lagos not just to walk the red carpet, but also to film future chapters of Marvel’s multi-billion dollar blockbuster franchise.
The ambition is there, but a number of challenges stand in the way. For all their creative flair and ingenuity, the local industry has a shortage of qualified crews capable of servicing studio productions. Nigeria does not offer any incentive scheme for foreign productions, putting it at a competitive disadvantage with its rivals, including South Africa. Security is also a concern in a country where the US State Department urges citizens to “reconsider travel.”
Linus Idahosa, President and CEO of Del-York Intl., is forging ahead with US-based Storyland Studios, a sprawling studio town on more than 200 acres of prime waterfront property in Lagos.
The project, dubbed Kebulania, will include not only state-of-the-art soundstages and backlots, but also a film academy offering internationally recognized certifications and degrees, a holistic effort to expand the capabilities of the Nigerian industry. Scheduled to break ground in early 2023, the development is priced at more than $500 million.
Meanwhile, Silverbird Group, whose portfolio includes Nigeria’s leading cinema chain, signed a $140 million deal with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to build a world-class film academy and studio complex in Lagos.
Named after the company’s founder, Ben Murray-Bruce Studios and Film Academy will house two soundstages, music and broadcast studios, editing bays, screening rooms, a backlot and a film school on eight acres in booming Eko Atlantic billionaire from Lagos. developing. No timeline has been given for when construction will begin.
Both studies are massive bets that require a significant amount of input from both investors and the Nigerian government, which has a spotty record when it comes to supporting private industry.
For its part, Idahosa has been working closely with Lagos officials, who it says are fully committed to growing Nigeria’s creative economy. The government, she adds, is also making “remarkable progress” on an incentive scheme, key to attracting big-budget Hollywood productions.
The country need only follow the lead of South Africa, which has used its cash back to lure films like Viola Davis’ historical epic “The Woman King.” Based on the West African kingdom of Dahomey, it’s exactly the kind of project that inspired Idahosa to come up with the plan for Kebulania.
“These are stories that took place here in West Africa, but all the profits that have come out of these movies don’t come from anywhere,” he says.
That could change. On the red carpet in Lagos, Coogler described the “exhilarating” thrill of traveling to Africa while working on “Black Panther”, perhaps hinting at bigger things to come. “It’s what you dream about when you make movies,” she said.