Netflix first launched its streaming services in Nigeria in 2016. As at the time, the Company was expanding into about 130 countries, it acquired Genevieve Nnaji’s 2018 film Lionheart; and also began commissioning its own original projects.
In 2020, Netflix Naija was created. This development was celebrated by many Nigerians (Filmmakers and Audience) as a great development for the Industry. At the very least, Nigerian filmmakers will have access to a global platform. Also, Nigerians in the Diaspora will now have access to content from home. The general feeling was that Netflix meant better “quality” for Nollywood.
Then, Yemi Solade, an actor said that: Netflix has “a set standard for collecting works. They know the work they want and what they don’t want. So, Netflix has come to raise the bar. You can’t get your job on Netflix if you haven’t met certain conditions and standards. From the equipment to storyline, quality of actors, location, costume, your audio, subtitles, and other components of the film, must be top-notch”
But, the plethora of films that have been screening these days on the platform, have got people asking whether Netflix’s involvement with the Nigerian film industry, NOLLYWOOD, is the right relationship we need to drive the creative arc of the industry forward, given that we have begun to improve our technological aspects.
Since the involvement, and until recently, the answer has been a resounding “No!” from most filmmakers. However, with the reception of films like Damilola Orimogunje’s For Maria (Ebun Pataki) and numerous other films (mnemonics fails me at this time), the answer has changed to a mild “Yes, but…” The “but” encompasses a wide range of creative deficiencies that need to be fixed.
For example: In 2020, Chief Daddy 2 aired on Netflix, as a sequel to Chief Daddy 1 and the reception it got from the audience further strengthened the notion what most people already have about the streaming company; that they are only on Nigeria’s soil to milk the possibilities that comes with the Nigerian film market and they do not care about how creative the contents we churn out are.
Although, recent happenings have shown how ironic this had turned out for them.
Another example is the criticism that trailed Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys 2: The Return of The King. The first Nigerian miniseries to go straight to Netflix’s platform.
In a review that I wrote then and titled “Is this your King” I said: KOB 2 ‘s plot is unnecessarily bland, slow, and not in any way a successful political thriller. Even a blind man can see that the film wasn’t originally conceived to be a series but due to the excessive length of the script, they had to find a way for the audience to see it —by fire, by force…. KOB 2 is nothing short of a disappointment as the only things enjoyable in the series are the efforts of the actors, costume design, and the OST. Storywise, KOB is nothing to write home about. Nothing thrills. Eniola Salami returns to Nigeria, but the highly awaited Laburu, The King of Boys, remains in New York.
Despite the lack of a creative pivot in these films (and many others — you’re probably thinking of one or two yourself now) Netflix never hesitates to acquire them, as long as they meet the “technical requirements.”
There are many other films that have gotten the audience to react in this manner. So yes, maybe Netflix is the a Messiah we need in terms of distribution and advancement in technology. But if the granddaddy of streaming services; Netflix, bills itself as a platform for distributing “creative” films, it must first tackle that surface level deception.
Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of a Pulse Contributor, it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the company.