Lionheart: Nollywood struck dumb as Genevieve Nnaji breaks records, stereotypes

“Life is in phases and men in sizes” is a saying that must be retooled and applied to success. Success most certainly comes in phases and in sizes. For example, the success of Genevieve Nnaji’s movie, “Lionheart” has the phase and size that has absolutely stripped words out of the entire movie industry in Nigeria known as Nollywood, many an actor are beyond flabbergasted. When the ELFIKE group’s first sequel production, Wedding Party II, smashed box office records of highest grossing Nigerian movie of all time and the highest ever global box office for a Nigerian movie, Nollywood contained the frequent spasms of the success.

N500 million in sales was an outstanding feat, the size of which worthy words were easily found to help in describing and celebrating.

But in ‘Lionheart’, the first Nigerian film to be bought by Netflix and the first movie to produce Nollywood’s first billionaire, Genevieve Nnaji left most of her colleagues speechless.

Ms Nnaji became the first Nigerian movie actor to rise to the coveted billionaire status after it was revealed that Netflix bought over her directorial debut with a whooping sum of $3.8million the equivalent of 1, 051, 297, 231. 57 naira.

Though the actress, did not reveal the figures, a source close to her made the disclosure and since then the industry had gone numb with awe for Nnaji’s incredible feat.

Not many actors could find words to celebrate with the star actress, the few who commented on her post on Instagram and Twitter, namely Ken Eric, Uche Jombo, Belinda Effal, Sola Sobowale, Eve Esin, did not use words as there were no English words novel enough to describe Genevieve’s rise in the industry. Most used  emojis and emoticons of love, appreciation and admiration instead except Rachael Okonkwo who only wrote, “No1”.

Meanwhile in her post, Ms Nnaji said, “Thank you everyone for accepting ‘Lionheart’ into your homes and hearts. Worldwide. This is how we change the narrative. Together let us continue to bridge the gap.”

The notion that ‘Lionheart’ had an underlying mission, a “narrative” it wanted to change has been spotted and  discussed in many prisms.

For example, Juxie_pop (@jukaliond) tweeted, “I love how Lionheart movie changed the entire narrative about how African uncles are not supportive. When I first saw the uncle come to the company, I throught it was going to be the same old story of the uncle wanting everything for himself and messing the family up”.

Imani (@ImaniMunal) said, “ The establishment of a relationship between a Hausa family and an Igbo family, that was brilliant”.

“I especially loved that this movie smashed a lot of stereotypes!” Nonso Ozoemena, a creative writer said.

“The idea of first born sons and daughters struggling over fortunes, did not come up, as is obtainable in most Nigerian movies.

“Someone told me there was not so much conflict in #lionheartthemovie  and that is why she did not like it. Truth is, we have been brought up with stories of our uncles secretly wanting our parents to fail. Half of all these toxicity comes from Nollywood. Here is a change.”

There  are also those who have looked at the movie from its sexist, cultural and structural standpoints, but everyone agrees that, that there is so much to talk about and divers angles to view a work of art is almost always the biggest success of that work of art.

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