By Demola Ojo
Africa Entertainment Group (AEG), a Nigerian-owned entertainment company with strong roots in the US, is putting together plans to change the face of Nollywood by pushing it into the mainstream of the global movie industry. This in part will be achieved by introducing a cast of Hollywood actors into its movies.
This was revealed by the leader of the group, American-based Nigerian actor, Pascal Atuma. Speaking at a press conference in Lagos during the week, Atumah said the decision to come up with the AEG was to have a platform that would be global and capable of pushing Nollywood movies to the world stage, further raising Nollywood’s profile in the process. He noted that despite the huge gains the Nigerian movie industry has made, it has some way to go before being widely-accepted in the mainstream industry globally.
“We formed this company so that we can produce African movies that can go global. We have already produced Only in America, Hurricane in the Garden, American Nurse, American Nurse 2, Okoto the Messenger, Who is the Man which had Jim Iyke in the cast and the rest of them.
“We recently went into production of a film which has American actors like Billy D. Williams and Lynn Whitfieldin the cast because our goal is to break into the world market. We went an all American cast with an interjection of African actors like myself, my brother and a Nigerian actor based the US,” Atuma said.
Atuma explained that one of the goals targeted includes releasing movies simultaneously in different parts of the world - Asia, Europe and Africa - on the same day the way the big studios do. “Nollywood has done wonderfully well and has put Nigeria’s name in the global map but there is one thing that has not been done yet: we don’t have any Nollywood actor that is accepted globally. So, the goal of AEG is to merge Hollywood with Nollywood.
“We as an African-owned company can do the same thing; shoot a movie with big names like Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and the first premier will be in Lagos or Abuja, Nigeria before being taken to the world,” Atuma explained.
Not content with making movies though, the AEG would also be branching out into music. It plans to not only work with established stars, but also organise talent hunt competitions to discover artistes to be promoted on the world stage.
Interestingly, AEG deplored the practice of selling forms to intending participants in talent shows. Rather their talent hunts will be free. All that will be required from participants is exceptional talent and they can come from any part of Africa.
As part of its marketing strategy to push its work into a global market, AEG has sealed a deal with OHTV in the England. Atuma explained: “We currently have six movies already completed and released outside Africa. We are in the final stages of post-production for the ones with the big Hollywood stars and we plan for our first premier to be right here in Nigeria. This will happen within the next three four months.
“Even though it is going to be spiced with Hollywood stars, it is an African production, so the first time the world should see it, it should be in African soil, and bring in the stars, but the distribution will be worldwide. We already have offers. It will be sold anywhere that mainstream movies are sold. We have done it before, the only thing we have not done is to get them in theatres, and that is main goal of AEG. China and India, they export their movies all over the world. Nollywood movies are now just being recognised, it is therefore in our hands to take it to the next level.”