The investment that changed Nollywood’s narrative

At 34, ROK CEO, Mary Njoku, has already set a record in the male-dominated Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood. Recently, she got Nollywood’s first international investment which is an opportunity to change the narrative of Africa’s movie industry.

Mary Njoku who was excited about this acquisition said that “ROK has captured the imagination of millions of movie fans, and they have truly supported us as we’ve grown the company to celebrate and enjoy our African culture.

French pay-TV group Canal+ last week acquired African film and television studio ROK. Under the deal, Canal+ acquired ROK’s production, content distribution and publishing channels from Iroko, Africa’s digital content distributor for Nigerian films. ROK founder Mary Njoku will continue as general director of ROK Productions. As part of the transaction, IROKO Ltd will also take full control of the JV IROKO+, the number one Subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) platform in French-speaking Africa.

Launched in 2013 by Mary Njoku, the Nollywood studio has grown in stature and in terms of pan-African and international viewership; ROK reaches 15 million subscribers across DSTV and GOTV platforms in Africa alone with its ROK channels. It has produced over 540 movies and 25 original TV series, making ROK one of the most prolific production houses in Nollywood.

“With CANAL+ as a strategic partner, ROK now has the muscle to reach its truest potential and scale – not only in French Speaking Africa, where Canal+ has a huge reach but also in other markets where we would love to produce more original content,” Mary Njoku told TheNerve Africa in an Interview.

This opportunity also creates more visibility for Nollywood as ROK content will not only get visibility across French Speaking Africa but globally as well. This means that our stories and our local talent will be recognised by more people.

Njoku who acted for so long in Nollywood noticed the gaps in the market and decided to do something about it. Through acting, she became interested in production and created a bigger platform for Nollywood. Surprisingly, Njoku was able to make this success as a mother and as a wife.

“It’s all down to having a great partner, my husband Jason, and a super team at ROK who I can count on to take on very difficult tasks. Jason is the number one reason I can balance being a good mother, a good wife and an even better boss at ROK,” she said in an interview with TheNerve Africa.

Just like many other businesses the main challenge for Mary was finding talent and getting the right people on her team.

Njoku said, “I believe that once we had everything in place, we were able to move forward and create the great content that you see now on the ROK platforms.”

However, Njoku also revealed that having a successful business for four years takes a lot of strength but most importantly, one needs to be passionate and consistent. This is because Nollywood lovers have a crazy appetite for new movies, which means they have to produce enough content for them to watch weekly in order not to lose them to someone else.

“It is also very important to get trained. You need to understand every single thing about your business in order to impart great value to your team members.

“Having a mentor is also important. Someone who has been there and done everything you are about to do. They will advise you on mistakes they made in their time and best ways to avoid them,” Mary said.

“With filmmaking, you must be consistent and authentic. Be interested in the world, take note of trends, do things that inspire you, in order to bring constant “freshness” to your craft,” She said further.

Following this acquisition, Njoku plans to continue creating amazing original content.

“With the backing of CANAL+,  we can now create higher budget films and different types of content that we have always wanted to explore, like animation. We can create content that will cut across English and French Speaking Africa,” Njoku said.