Amazon Prime Video Shifts Strategy, Halts Funding for African and Middle Eastern Content

In a surprising move, Amazon Prime Video has announced a restructuring of its international business, shifting its focus away from the African and Middle Eastern regions in favour of European originals. This decision has sparked concerns and raised questions about the implications for the thriving Nigerian film industry.

The news comes just months after Prime Video’s significant entry into the Nigerian market with exclusive licensing deals and the launch of its first Nigerian original title, “Gangs of Lagos.” The action thriller, set to star Tobi Bakre, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, and Chiké, had created anticipation and excitement among Nigerian audiences.

However, the recent restructuring suggests a shift in priorities for Prime Video, with the company announcing a halt to green lighting local originals in Sub-Saharan Africa. The move has left the future of promising projects, such as “LOL ZA” and “Ebuka Turns Up Africa,” in limbo.

Ned Mitchell, Head of African and Middle East Originals at Prime Video, had previously expressed the company’s commitment to showcasing authentic African stories and investing in the continent’s film industry. The restructuring appears to be a departure from this commitment, leaving many in the industry and among the audience puzzled.

Jáde Osiberu, the renowned Nigerian director and producer, who recently struck an exclusive overall deal with Prime Video, commented on the development, stating, “I am overjoyed with this collaboration and already feel like I’m part of the Prime Video and Amazon Studios family. It will be an absolute pleasure to introduce Prime Video audiences to the most exciting talent and storylines Nigeria has to offer.”

The concern now revolves around potential job redundancies in local teams and the impact on the vibrant Nigerian film ecosystem, which has gained global recognition for its unique storytelling and cinematic offerings.

Amazon’s initial foray into the Nigerian film market had been met with enthusiasm, with licensing deals signed with prominent production studios like Inkblot Studios and Anthill Studios. The exclusive licensing agreement with Inkblot Studios marked Amazon’s first exclusive theatrical output deal with a leading African film studio, providing global distribution rights for their slate of theatrical releases.

As the Nigerian film industry continues to flourish and gain international acclaim, questions arise about the potential void left by Prime Video’s strategic shift. Industry experts and stakeholders are closely watching for further developments and hoping for clarity on how this decision may impact the dynamic landscape of Nollywood.

Note: We reached out to Prime Video executives Ned Mitchell and Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu for comments on the recent developments but have yet to receive any response.

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>>> Learn more about the people mentioned in this story: Prime Video, Ned Mitchell
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