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    Friday, April 7, 2023

    Amazon Prime Video: Premiere of First African Original Crime Thriller ‘Gangs of Lagos’

    Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video premiered its first African original title, filmed in Nigeria, in Lagos Thursday ahead of its debut on the streaming platform Friday.

    Crime thriller Gangs of Lagos is set in the center of Nigeria’s commercial hub, and tells the story of a group of childhood friends trying to navigate life in a bustling, overcrowded neighborhood, Prime said in a statement.

    At a packed house on Lagos’ ritzy Victoria Island, luminaries from the Nigerian film and fashion industries turned out to toast a movie that electrified the boisterous homegrown crowd ahead of its global release.

    “I’m overwhelmed,” said Osiberu after a rousing ovation. “It’s a dream come true.”

    Courtesy of KORJ/Joseph Korode

    “Gangs of Lagos,” which drops globally on Prime Video on Friday, is the first film to come out of the streamer’s three-year overall deal with Osiberu, the creator of domestic box-office sensations “Sugar Rush” and “Isoken” — one of a host of recent pacts with Nigerian creators from the U.S. tech giant as it tries to outflank Netflix in Africa’s biggest market.

    According to the film’s producer and director, Jade Osiberu, the story which has been in development since 2021 was inspired by the scenic view from the rooftop in Isale Eko.

    “…2016 I shot a scene from Gidi Up season 3 on a rooftop in Isale Eko and I was inspired to write a film about a group of friends who grow up on the streets of Isale Eko. Fast forward 5 years and we’re standing on that very same roof top, shooting a scene with best friends.”

    Gang of Lagos features a star-studded cast, including Tobi Bakre, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Chioma Akpotha, Iyabo Ojo, the legendary Pasuma, Nigerian singer-songwriter-Chike Osebuka, as well as Afrobeats artiste, Zlatan Ibile (Omoniyi Temidayo Raphael).

    Prime Video’s Ned Mitchell (center) with Nigerian actors Jimmie Akinsola (left) and Ebuka Obi-Uchendu (right).
    Courtesy of KORJ/Joseph Korode

    Ned Mitchell, the Los Angeles-based head of originals for Africa and the Middle East for Prime Video and Amazon Studios, and London-based head of Nigerian originals Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu were both on hand in Lagos to celebrate the launch.

    “This is such an amazing moment for Africa, and for filmmaking,” said Mitchell at a press event before Thursday’s premiere. “We look at ‘Gangs of Lagos’ as a tentpole for the whole world. When we think about originals at Amazon, we put all of our heart and all of our effort into opening it and making it feel like a big experience for everyone. No matter where you are, no matter where you’re watching from, you really do feel like you’re part of an event. And that’s what ‘Gangs’ is. ‘Gangs’ is an event.”

    Last week the streamer announced its first South African original, “LOL: Last One Laughing,” a local adaptation of the hit unscripted comedy series, hosted by Trevor Noah, which will launch in early 2024. Next up for Prime Video in Nigeria is a West African spin on that wide-traveling format, “LOL: Last One Laughing Naija,” as well as the feature film “Breath of Life,” which will be the first pic from Amazon’s three-picture deal with Lagos-based Nemsia Films. Both projects are expected to drop later this year.

    Though the details of other projects are being kept under wraps, Mitchell said the company is “working with a really interesting assortment of creators who really feel very passionate about what can be done” across a range of genres and formats. “We will push the boundaries,” added Mba-Uzoukwu. “Nigerians are quite sophisticated in their needs for content. Nigerians want it all.”

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