Netflix is serious about Africa. It has just announced that it is investing in original African productions, increasing titles on its roster.
The move is part of the global platform to increase diversity in the shows it features on its list. According to the company’s vice president of international originals, Erik Barmack, Netflix will commission series from Africa in 2019.
The move is also inspired by the belief that international films will be the centre of focus in the near future, moving the focus from U.S. productions.
“There’s going to come a time when half of the top 10 of most-watched shows in a given year are going to come from outside of the U.S. I don’t think that’s very actually far away. I think that’s going to come in years, not decades,” Barmack said.
The company has already started making inroads into the continent, picking up productions such as Lionheart by Nigerian director Genevieve Nnaji.
The movie follows the hurdles of an Igbo family that is into the transport business and stars Nnaji in the lead role, alongside Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie and Onyeka Onwenu. Adaeze (played by Nnaji) is forced to go along with the arrangement of working with her uncle in order to save her father’s ailing bus company. This is after her father falls ill and appoints her “crude” and “eccentric” uncle to be the head CEO instead of her and her rival (Kalu Egbui Ikeagwu). More drama follows as they discover that the family business is in a bad financial state.
Netflix also bought the global rights to Chiwetel Ejiofor’s film The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, based on a book of the same name by Malawian innovator William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. The film was shot in Malawi and is set to premiere in 2019
Netflix has also featured a number of African productions on their roster including The Wedding Party and Half of a Yellow Sun from Nigeria, Tsotsi, Ayanda and Lucky from South Afric, among others.
This move by the company will also see more local filmmakers a chance at global viewership and funding for their local productions. It also set to make it a competitor against cable networks on the continent.