Netflix Buys Genevive Nnaji’s Movie “LionHeart” – The Effect Explained

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Netflix Buys Genevive Nnaji’s Movie “LionHeart”

Netflix Buys Genevive Nnaji’s Movie “LionHeart”? You might have heard by now, but for those who haven’t here is a quick recap. In the past few weeks Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji released the trailer for her directorial debut “Lionheart“. In the days that followed we were made aware of Lionheart’s inclusion as the only Nigerian movie at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. 

While we were still settling into the news and spreading congratulations around, more exciting news was revealed about a deal with Netflix. Netflix has now acquired worldwide rights to Lionheart the movie thereby making it the first original Nigerian Netlfix film.

Netflix Buys Genevive Nnaji's Movie "LionHeart"

You might ask how it’s possible that this is the first Nigerian Netflix film when many other Nigerian movies have already been on Netflix for years?

To answer that question one must realize the difference between a Netflix original movie and a movie on Netflix. A movie on Netflix is simply any movie for which Netflix has acquired some distribution rights.

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Said movies might have concluded their cinema runs and might also be concurrently available for streaming on Pay-Per-View channels or just regular television stations. They might simply be movies that were made for straight to television and were never available in the cinemas. Whatever the case, a non-netflix original is not owned outright by Netflix and can be streamed legally elsewhere.

Netflix originals, however, are movies that are either produced or acquired post-production by the company. Netflix has worldwide rights on distribution of the movie and may choose to show it at certain festivals then concurrently in the theatres and online as in the case of “Okja” and Angelina Jolie’s “First they Killed My Father”. Or a Netflix original may simply stream exclusively on the platform – – as was the case for the Will Smith starrer “Bright”. [NY Times] [The Verge]

So is Genevieve’s Lionheart going to be coming to cinemas near you anytime soon?

The short and simple answer is that nobody knows yet. However, no matter what happens, because it is Netflix (an online streaming company), you can rest assured that sooner or later the movie will be available to stream online at

Why all they hype? What does this mean for nollywood?

Yes, it is true that unless you went to the TIFF screening, many of us are yet to see the movie so we really can’t praise it for its own actual worth. However, the hype and the celebration surrounding the feats of the movie is because of the representation and what it means for nollywood.

The storyline of the movie surrounds a young girl whose father skips over her in favor of her “seemingly less capable” uncle, to take control of his company “Lionheart Transport”. Right there we are already doing better than the usual new-nollywood representation we have become accustomed to seeing.

The story we’ve been sold is that the nollywood market in Nigeria is only interested in slapstick comedy, thereby leading to the high numbers of story-empty, jokes-heavy nollywood movies we’ve seen recently. On the selling pitch for Lionheart, it presents a strong story with a value behind it alongside culture and comedy in between.

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As an original Netflix movie, it opens us up to new investment opportunities, new audiences and a whole new sector of the world. 

Lionheart, the movie, is currently up for the Grolsch People’s Choice Awards. The Toronto International Film Festival Grolsch People’s Choice Award is an annual film award, presented by the Toronto International Film Festival to the film rated as the year’s most popular film with festival audiences.

The award’s current corporate sponsor is Grolsch; past sponsors of the award have included Cadillac. The winners of this award have often later earned Academy Award nominations, to the point that the award is now considered to be effectively the “starting gun” of the Academy Award nominations race. [Wiki] To vote for “Lionheart” please click this link HERE and type in the word ‘lionheart’, select it from the options, enter your email address on the next screen and hit submit.

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