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


    Laemmle Theatres Arthouse Chain No Longer Seeking Buyer

    Los Angeles-based arthouse chain Laemmle Theatres has stopped seeking a buyer, four months after putting itself on the sales block amid slow sales. Greg Laemmle, president of the 81-year-old exhibitor, announced the development Thursday. He told Variety that discussions with an unidentified buyer had reached an advanced stage but fell apart and that there has [...]

  • Morgan Freeman Lori McCreary Gary Lucchesi

    Film News Roundup: Morgan Freeman's Revelations Teams With Gary Lucchesi for Production Venture

    In today’s film news roundup, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and Gary Lucchesi are teaming up; Zolee Griggs, Sara Rue and Ed Quinn are cast; and “Clementine” finds a home. JOINT VENTURE Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment is teaming with former Lakeshore Entertainment president Gary Lucchesi for a joint production venture. Lucchesi will develop [...]

  • 'When Lambs Become Lions' Review: A

    Film Review: 'When Lambs Become Lions'

    “For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” says Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised statement, shortly before several vast hauls of severed elephant tusks — ornately piled like sacred shrines — is ceremoniously set ablaze. It’s a confiscated collection that, Kenyatta tells his audience, is worth $150 million, literally going [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Live Nation Productions Boards Danny Clinch-Helmed Blind Melon Doc 'All I Can Say'

    Live Nation Productions and Double E Entertainment have signed on as executive producers of “All I Can Say,” the documentary film featuring footage shot entirely by the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. The film’s title is taken from the opening lines of Blind Melon’s instantly recognizable 1993 smash, “No Rain.” Culled from Hoon’s archives, the [...]

  • Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers

    How Mr. Rogers Influenced the Pacing of 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

    Fred Rogers was an icon to many. Everyone who met him and knew him says, “He really was like that.” He spoke in a soft voice and he was kind. He believed in doing good to others. He spoke to children in “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in a soft voice, helping them to process complicated emotions [...]

  • Dowdle Brothers

    The Dowdle Brothers Tackle New 'Friday Night Lights' Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Erick and Drew Dowdle, aka the Dowdle brothers, have boarded Universal Pictures’ reimagining of “Friday Night Lights.” Both will do a polish on the script, with John Erick directing and Drew exec producing. Sources tell Variety that the movie is not a sequel to Universal’s 2004 film starring Billy Bob Thornton, nor is it [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content