Nollywood has come a long way since travelling theatres in the 1940s and the VHS cassettes of the 1990s. From Nollywood’s Netflix debut to breaking into ₦1 billion naira in sales, here are all the times Nollywood shattered glass ceilings in the last few years.

First Netflix original film and Oscar nomination

After 28 years in front of the screen, Genevieve Nnaji made her directorial debut with Lionheart, a film about a first daughter looking to save her father’s company and prove her worth. Netflix acquired and released it in 2019. The same year, Lionheart became the first Nollywood movie to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best International Film category, until it was dropped because only ten minutes of it featured a foreign language (Igbo).

First Netflix original series

A remake of the 2003 Nollywood classic, Blood Sister, the mini-series made its way to Netflix as the first Nigerian original series on the platform. It hit the top 10 list in 30 countries and garnered a viewing of 11,070,000 hours and counting.

First Nigerian feature film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 

In January 2023, Mami Wata began its journey at the world’s biggest indie film festival, Sundance Film Festival. The black and white fantasy thriller, directed by CJ Obasi and produced by Oge Obasi, has gone on to win the 2023 National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVB) Award for Best Nigerian Film at AMAA and 2023 Best Feature Film at the Mashariki African Film Festival. It’s also received an Oscar 2024 nomination for Best International Film.

First Nigerian Prime Video original

A storyline that mirrored the average Nigerian’s reality, love, and fight scenes that had us jumping in glee, you name it, Gangs of Lagos had it. Nollywood’s debut Prime Video original was written and directed by Jade Osiberu, starring Tobi Bakre, Adesua Etomi, Chike, Bimbo Ademoye and Tayo Faniran.

Top five on global Netflix 

Editi Effiong’s revenge thriller, The Black Book, was released in September 2023 and hit Number 3 on Netflix’s global charts before the end of the year, with more than 20 million views worldwide. The film, which follows a father seeking justice for his son, gained 5.6 million views just 48 hours after its release, breaking Netflix’s Top 10 list in more than 69 countries.

Number 1 non-English film on Netflix 

Directed by Moses Inwang, Blood Vessel follows six youths as they flee their towns as stowaways on a mysterious ship. The thriller is majorly in Ijaw and Niger-Delta pidgin, and it emerged number one on Netflix’s top 10 non-English titles chart, with over 8.8 million hours of viewing time and 4.4 million views.

The most streamed African original in Nigeria 

After a two-year break, Chidi Mokeme returned to our screens with Shanty Town in January 2023. The Netflix original series not only had us in a chokehold for months, but it also went on to become the most streamed African original in Nigeria and the second most streamed across Africa.

The first film to gross ₦1 billion

One thing Funke Akindele will do is make a box office blockbuster. With her films already gracing the top 3 spots at the Nigerian box office, her only competition is herself. 

A Tribe Called Judah made its way to cinemas on December 15, and seven days later, it hit ₦400m at the box office. Three weeks after its premiere, the movie grossed ₦1 billion in sales, becoming the first Nollywood film to achieve such success.



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