Editi Effiong can’t contain his excitement! His crime thriller, “The Black Book,” premiered on Netflix less than three weeks ago and has already been viewed over 70 million times. The movie, one of the most expensive in Nigeria’s history with a $1 million budget, received funding from notable figures in Nigeria’s tech elite, such as Gbenga Abgoola, co-founder of Flutterwave, and Odun Eweniyi of Piggyvest.
The film’s success extends beyond Nigeria, grabbing the top spot in South Korea and consistently ranking as the second-most-watched film in several South American countries. This is a significant achievement for Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, and vindicates Netflix’s decision to invest in it.
Effiong’s journey began with church plays where he honed his production design skills. In Nollywood, where budgets are typically low, creativity is a must. Filmmakers often work with budgets between $25,000 and $70,000, and their work used to be released on cassettes.
Netflix entered the Nigerian film industry in 2020, but the initial titles closely resembled what came before, and the pay wasn’t substantial. Nigerian filmmakers felt they deserved higher compensation for global exposure.
Effiong’s previous films were licensed by Netflix, and “The Black Book” took shape in 2021. The film features Richard Mofe Damijo as a former secret military agent seeking justice for his framed and murdered child, and Ade Laoye as a journalist uncovering her mother’s murder. To realize his vision, Effiong had to get creative with fundraising, reaching out to tech industry friends.
Eweniyi, one of the film’s investors, believes Effiong’s model could inspire future collaborations between Nigeria’s tech and film sectors, enhancing content creation, distribution, and quality. The collaboration between tech and entertainment is promising for both industries.
With a more substantial budget, Effiong had more time to develop the script, better equipment, and allowed actors to prepare thoroughly. The result is a visually impressive film that addresses contemporary issues like police brutality and corruption.
This success story proves that Nollywood can create globally successful films with the right budget. Effiong’s ambition was always to make a movie for the world, not just Africa. He wanted to create a film that the world needed to see.