What Does Becoming a Netflix Original Mean for Genevieve Nnaji’s Movie “Lion Heart”

lion heart by genevieve nnaji netflix original

There are so many movies on Netflix, but only a few are tagged “original”. So when the company announced that it had acquired the worldwide rights for Genevieve Nnaji’s movie “Lion Heart,” the deal meant a significant milestone, not just for the director, but for the entire Nollywood, which was recently named the world’s most prolific film industry by the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations.

Netflix, Inc. is one of the largest providers of streaming television and movie content on the Internet. It currently boasts over 117.6 million subscribers and partners with content providers to license streaming rights for a variety of TV shows and movies.

They include Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, BoJack Horseman, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and many more. These productions are called Netflix originals.

But there’s a catch about being a Netflix original. Its widely known that when Netflix brands a movie as a Netflix Original, for example, it puts a lot more marketing behind it. This includes billboards and heavy promotion in the press. So for the movie “Lion heart,” it means more exposure for the characters in the movie and the industry that produced it.

While Lion heart is not the only Nigerian movie listed on the American movie streaming platform, it is the first original Nollywood film to be bought by the American movie streaming platform.

Some Nollywood films currently showing on Netflix include The Wedding Party, Fifty, The Visit, When Love Happens, Road to Yesterday and Dearest Mummy.

What is a Netflix Original Worth?

While the exact figures for the movie deal haven’t been made public, streamingmedia.com (a leading authority on online video for entertainment) stated that Netflix might pay $3 million to own exclusive rights to a production.

“Deals vary, but in general, Netflix pays two-thirds more than studios. One reason Netflix and Amazon are willing to pay more is because they often want exclusive rights in perpetuity. They want worldwide distribution so movie lovers who hear about a certain indie film can only see it on their platform. They’re award-eligible, that doesn’t always happen,” the website noted.

The movie is Genevieve’s directional debut, and features, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie and Onyeka Onwenu.

Genevieve was also a guest on CNN’s Richard Quest on Quest Means Business on Tuesday night. During the interview, she shared details about the movie including how it was funded.

”For money, we had to self-fund unfortunately. We don’t have adequate funding for movies that we actually intend to go global, there isn’t that provision yet. Nollywood stands a good chance of going global anytime soon, but language is the only problem that stands as a barrier.”

She also added that her movie, ‘Lion heart’, appealed to Netflix because the production team focused on the quality of the movie.

“I think the authenticity of the story which was what I loved about it. It provided an environment where I could showcase the things that made me proud of our culture, our talent and our values. We focused on quality this time.”

lion heart
A scene in the movie

Lion Heart premiered at the TIFF festival on Saturday. The movie captures the challenges of a female in a male-dominated industry.

It is a story of Adaeze, a young lady who steps up to the challenge when her father, Ernest Obiagu, is forced to take a step back from his company due to health issues.

She works with her crude and eccentric brother to save the family business in dire financial straits resulting in crazy and often hilarious results.

The Nigerian stars joined renowned movie practitioners that include Danny Glover, Ryan Gooslin, Quincy Jones, Steve McQueen at the film festival.


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