A Nigerian action thriller that tells a gripping story of corruption and police brutality in Africa’s most populous country has reached record viewership numbers on Netflix charts globally. It’s a reminder of the power and potential of Nigeria’s rapidly growing film industry.
“The Black Book” has taken the streaming world by storm, spending three weeks among the platform’s top 10 English-language titles globally, peaking at No. 3 in the second week.
It garnered 5.6 million views just 48 hours after its Sept. 22 release and by its second week was featured among the top 10 titles in 69 countries, according to Netflix.
Films are made for audiences, and the bigger the audience for a film, the better the chances of your message going out, producer Editi Effiong told The Associated Press. The reality for us is that we made a film, made by Nigerians, funded by Nigerian money, go global.
Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, has been a global phenomenon since the 1990s when it rose to fame with such films as “Living in Bondage,” a thriller with Kunle Afolayan’s Aníkúlápó released in 2022 and peaking at No. 1 on Netflix’s global chart. It is the world’s second-largest film industry after India based on number of productions, with an average of 2,000 movies released annually.
Nollywood’s latest blockbuster, “The Black Book,” is a $1 million movie financed with the support of a team of experts and founders in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem and is Effiong’s first feature film.
It tells the story of Nigeria’s checkered past, spanning a period of 40 years from when military regimes killed and arrested dissidents at will until the present day, when police brutality and abuse of power remain rampant.
The film opens with the abduction of family members of the head of the Nigerian oil regulatory agency, aided by corrupt police officers working for top politicians.
To cover their tracks, the police kill a young man framed as the suspect in the kidnapping not knowing he was the only child of a former special operative who abandoned his weapons for the pulpit.
In his prime, the character of ex-officer-turned-pastor Paul Edima — played by Nigerian movie icon Richard Mofe-Damijo — was known as Nigeria’s “most dangerous man” with a past punctuated by assassinations and involvement in several coups across West Africa.