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Creator of new Nigerian animated film seeks to diversify Nollywood

Nigeria’s animated movie – Malika Warrior Queen, made its first big screen debut over the weekend to critical acclaim at the 8th edition of the Lagos Comic Con.

Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, the 15 minute movie follows the exploits of queen and military commander, Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire.

Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the Kingdom of Azzaz in half and after years of civil war, she was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa.

It is a really really great and very humbling time for me because this is why you do what you do, for people to be excited about Nigerian animation, Nigerian comics, Nigerian superheroes and that is what we live for

Top Nollywood stars like Femi Branch, Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Blossom Chukwujekwu amongst others voiced the movie.

Malika series started as comic books in 2016 and writer/producer Roy Okupe was inspired to adapt the book to the screen, after seeing its growing popularity.

Okupe is hoping that the debut of Malika can encourage and inspire Nigeria’s Nollywood, the world’s second-largest film industry to invest in local animators to make animated movies.

“It is time we begin to collaborate, Nollywood has become so great, it is doing well so now we need to leverage that popularity on other brands. We need to have Nollywood films become comic books, we need to have Nollywood films become games, we need to have Nollywood become you know an animated series, that is what we are trying to do and Malika has just proven that, I am so excited about the reactions in there,” said founder of Lagos Comic Con Chinwe Ohanele.

Malika was produced in ten months on a budget of 60,000 US dollars at the Anthill Studios, a Nigerian-based visual media production company in Lagos.

Okupe, who is also the CEO and founder of YouNeek Studios, a US-based media company that focuses on stories that are inspired by African culture and mythology, says he sees no reason why animation can not be the next frontier for Nollywood.

“I feel like when we talk about the Nigerian animation and comic book industry and even the video gaming industry as well too, this is the next frontier and I feel like we are going to follow in the footstep of the music industry where in the next five to ten years we are going to see the same impact not just on the continent but overseas as well,” he added.

Okupe said he plans to collaborate with local animators on his future projects.