Amazon's going to Nollywood -- and its deals with studios could shake up one of the world's most prolific filmmaking hubs

Left to right: Inkblot Productions founders Chinaza Onuzo, Zulumoke Oyibo and Damola Ademola. The company has signed a licensing deal with Amazon Prime Video.

(CNN)In its hunt for content, Amazon Prime Video has turned to Nigeria, where it has secured key deals with studios that could shake up business in Africa's most prolific filmmaking hub.

In recent months, the US giant has signed exclusive streaming agreements with Inkblot Productions and Anthill Studios -- which say the deals will fundamentally change the way they operate.
Chinaza Onuzo, co-founder of Inkblot Productions, the studio behind domestic hits "The Wedding Party" and "Up North," told CNN Business the company has signed a three-year licensing deal running through to 2024. The deal will see Inkblot's upcoming releases move onto Amazon's platform after showing in cinemas.
    "This allows us to plan long-term," Onuzo says. Instead of film-by-film commissioning, the company is looking at possible intellectual property deals and franchise potential in Inkblot's existing titles. "It has given us the opportunity to broaden the genres that we explore (and) given us the opportunity to work with a with a wider mix of filmmakers and talents," he adds.
      Anthill Studios produces original features and animation, releasing titles including "Prophetess" and "Day of Destiny" (the latter a co-production with Inkblot). Its films will also appear on Prime Video after a theatrical window, in a multi-year agreement.
      "We jumped at the deal," says founder and creative director Niyi Akinmolayan. "We've practically doubled the size of our budgets ... we've become a lot more ambitious with the kind of stories we want to tell."

      What the deals will do for studios and cinemas

        Nigeria's film industry, nicknamed "Nollywood," produces thousands of movies every year and the country's entertainment and media market is projected to have double-digit growth between 2021 and 2025, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
        Amazon's deal with Inkblot in December 2021 was the first of its kind to be struck between the streaming giant, which has 200 million subscribers, and an African studio. The Anthill deal followed a month later.
        Niyi Akinmolayan, founder of Anthill Studios, has directed some of Nollywood's highest-grossing films.
        Anthill's Akinmolayan, also a film director, says Amazon has been hands off so far. "They're not telling you the kind of films to make," he says. "They have zero input on creativity -- that's very appealing to any filmmaker."
        This is intentional, Amazon suggests. "We believe that if Nollywood filmmakers focus on telling compelling, authentic, hyper-local and universally accessible stories -- that are grounded in the rich history, lived experiences and culture of Nigeria -- those stories will travel and will engage audiences around the world," said Ayanna Lonian, director of content acquisition and head of worldwide major studio licensing strategy at Amazon Prime Video, in an email to CNN.
        Lonian says the aim is to both diversify Prime Video's offering to its global audience and make the platform a more appealing product for Nigerian audiences.