You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Huahua Media Signs On for First China-Nigeria Co-Production (EXCLUSIVE)

China’s Huahua Media and Nigeria’s Corporate World Entertainment and FilmOne Entertainment are partnering on the first co-production between the two countries, “30 Days in China,” starring Nigerian actor-comedian Ayo Makun, popularly known by his stage name A.Y.

The film, slated for release next year, will feature Chinese and Nigerian actors and marks a step forward for the Nigerian industry. “We are enthusiastic about this opportunity because it extends the influence of our art to global markets,” said Makun, who has produced and starred in smash hits such as “Merry Men,” “A Trip to Jamaica,” and “10 Days in Sun City” (pictured), which rank among the 10 highest-grossing Nigerian films of all time.

“30 Days in China” pairs the world’s second-largest film market (China’s) with the growing international ambitions of Nollywood, Nigeria’s nearly three-decade-old film biz. Though the industry has long been known for straight-to-DVD works made on a shoestring, Nigerian filmmakers are busily rewriting that script. Budgets and production values are rising. The number of theatrically released movies is also growing, with some titles earning berths at prestigious showcases such as the Toronto Intl. Film Festival. More than 80 Nigerian films hit the big screen last year.

This year the country submitted its first-ever candidate for Oscar contention, Genevieve Nnaji’s “Lionheart,” although this week the news broke that the Academy has deemed the well-received comedy ineligible for the international feature film race because of its preponderance of dialogue in English.

Popular on Variety

Global players are eyeing the potential windfalls of Nigeria’s vast consumer market. Earlier this year, France’s Canal Plus bought the prolific Lagos-based studio ROK, acquiring its content library while also promising to bring Nollywood-style production savvy to French-speaking West Africa. China’s StarTimes has invested more than $200 million in the local pay-TV market as it seeks to grow its footprint in Africa’s most populous nation.

Netflix has also taken note, expanding its library of local titles and adding “Lionheart” to its service last January. The streamer has been scouting more potential projects from Nigerian creators, according to several sources.

Nigerian comedies “The Wedding Party” and “The Wedding Party 2,” both distributed by FilmOne, rank behind only “Black Panther” as Nigeria’s highest-grossing films of all time. Last year, local films took home close to 40% of total box office in Nigeria.

The partnership with Huahua, which has invested in Hollywood blockbusters like “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “Transformers: The Last Knight,” and “Star Trek Beyond,” offers Nollywood its first shot at the vast Chinese market. Conversely, the deal gives China’s rising entertainment industry a shot at Africa’s second-largest economy.

In recent years, the Chinese government has actively tried to increase its soft power across Africa. Economic ties between Nigeria and China are already strong, with the Middle Kingdom ranking behind only the U.S. as Nigeria’s biggest trade partner.

“Investing in Nollywood has been of major importance to us, seeing the abundance of talent and the possibility of creating masterpieces with collaborations,” Huahua CEO Wang Kefei said.

“The ‘30 Days in China’ project is not just one to add a feather to our wings as a company,” said FilmOne Entertainment co-founders Moses Babatope and Kene Okwuosa. “It positions the Nigerian film industry on the global stage as an advancing player, especially in terms of quality. We hope that this will open doors to more international collaborations.”

More Film

  • Australia' s Oscar contender BuoyancyC

    Rod Rathjen on Why Human Trafficking Tale 'Buoyancy' Had to be Made as Fiction

    Australian Rod Rathjen’s first film as director, “Buoyancy” is a powerful dramatization of human trafficking within Thailand’s offshore fishing fleet. Shot largely in Khmer and Thai, and selected as Australia’s foreign-language Oscar contender, it may also be a role model for cultural sensitivity and activism. The film plays this week in competition at the International [...]

  • Bong Joon Ho Talks 'Parasite' on

    'Parasite' Director Bong Joon Ho Makes Late Night Debut Following Three Globe Nominations

    “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho sat down for his first U.S. late-night appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Monday night. The director, who received best director and best original screenplay Globen Globe nominations with co-writer Han Jin Won, plus a best foreign language nod Monday morning, did not give much away about the film’s [...]

  • The Cold Blue

    Erik Nelson Wants to Preserve the Past With 'The Cold Blue' World War II Documentary

    Erik Nelson describes his documentary “The Cold Blue” as “the garage band of movies” — he didn’t have the large team or crew other documentary contenders have. “The Cold Blue” is a World War II documentary that looks at raids and B-17 bombing missions that took place during the war. Nelson’s team looked at 34 [...]

  • Ray Manzarek

    Film News Roundup: Concert-Documentary 'The Doors: Break on Thru' Set for February

    In today’s film news roundup, one-night showings of a Ray Manzarek tribute and the season premiere of “Doctor Who” have been set for 2020, and the MPAA hires a copyright expert. ONE-NIGHT SHOWINGS The Doors and Trafalgar Releasing are teaming on the worldwide Feb. 12 release of “The Doors: Break on Thru – A Celebration [...]

  • Richard Jewell

    Warner Bros. Hits Back at Atlanta Paper Over 'Richard Jewell' Legal Threat

    Warner Bros. is standing behind “Richard Jewell,” the Clint Eastwood drama that is the source of controversy over its portrayal of a female journalist trading sex for scoops. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent a legal threat to the filmmakers on Monday asking them to include a disclaimer noting that the film took dramatic license. In a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content