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5 Classic Nigerian Stories Set For Present-Day Cinema

Nigerians love a good blockbuster film, especially a classic story that evokes nostalgia. The success of Charles Okpaleke’s Living In Bondage: Breaking Free showed that. Grossing over ₦140 million within a few weeks of its release, the sequel’s success marked the beginning of the season of remakes, sequels and film production of Nigerian classics.

There are a few more classic films from the early days of Nollywood that are being prepped for the present-day cinema-going audience. We look at four of them and one classic play that is set for film adaptation.

Rattlesnake (1995)

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake original poster

Regarded as Nollywood’s first attempt at exploring the action film genre, this classic is based on a true life story. It follows the tale of Ahanna Okolo, a young boy lured into a life of crime and gang rivalry after unfortunate events cut his happy childhood short. Directed by the late iconic producer, Amaka Igwe, the three-part film features old Nollywood heavyweights including Francis Duru, Okechukwu Igwe, Nkem Owoh, Anne Njemanze and Ernest Obi.

Charles Okpalaeke, the CEO of Play Network Studios, bought the rights to the film. The remake of Rattlesnake may premiere in cinemas in November 2020.

Domitilla (1996)

Domitilla

Domitilla original poster

Another landmark Nollywood film, Domitilla tells the story of a young girl and her friends who go into prostitution to survive. Then, caught up in the mysterious death of a high profile politician, they try to prove their innocence by all means necessary. The crime drama was so influential that Domitilla became a Nigerian slang for a prostitute.

Directed by Zeb Ejiro, the 1996 film stars Anne Njemanze, Sandra Achums, Kate Henshaw and the late Enebeli Elebuwa. Now, three Nigerian film production companies have signed a partnership to produce the sequel. Set to be a showcase of Nollywood veterans and young actors, the remake will premiere in early 2021.

Glamour Girls (1994)

Glamour Girls poster

Glamour Girls poster. | Photo Instagram Play Network Africa

The 1994 classic, produced and written by Kenneth Nnebue, follows the tale of four single, independent women who resort to high profile prostitution within Nigeria’s traditionally patriarchal society. Glamour Girls, notorious for its sexual content, had several controversial moments including a bathroom scene featuring Eucharia Anunobi-Ekwu and Zack Orji, and another scene where a lady washes her private part and then cooks with the water in a bid to win her lover’s heart. It also features Nollywood veterans like Liz Benson, Ernest Obi, Ngozi Ezeonu and Sandra Achums.

According to Okpaleke, who secured the rights to the film for a remake, Glamour Girls will focus on three generations of actresses. The remake will premiere in late 2021.

Nneka The Pretty Serpent (1992)

Nneka the Pretty Serpent

Nneka the Pretty Serpent original poster | Photo YouTube Pauline Ari TV

Originally produced by Okechukwu Ogunjiofor and directed by Zeb Ejiro, Nneka the Pretty Serpent tells the story of a mermaid disguised as a pretty lady whose mission is to go after prominent married men. One of the first Nigerian films with the pastor-versus-demon storyline, Nneka the Pretty Serpent was a commercial success despite being shot in Igbo with English subtitles.

The star-studded film featured the likes of Ndidi Obi, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Okechukwu Ogunjiofor and Rita Nzelu. With rights secured by Okpaleke, the remake, directed by Tosin Igho, will premiere in cinemas in December 2020.

Death And The King’s Horseman (1975)

Death and the Kings Horseman 2009 production set

Death and the Kings Horseman 2009 production set | Photo Robbie Jack

Based on a historical event, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman tells the story of Elesin, the king’s horseman, who is expected to commit ritual suicide following the death of the king. The play premiered at Vivian Beaumont Theater in 1975. It was also performed at London’s Royal National Theatre from April 2009 with a Yoruba translation at the National Theatre, Lagos.

Netflix Nigeria recently announced its partnership with Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu for the adaptation of the beloved classic. This is an exciting addition to the list of Nigerian literary works that have been adapted for the cinema.

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