Netflix taps into popularity of action movies as part of African growth strategy

Netflix is investing in original African content as the streaming service looks to increase subscriber numbers on the continent, with South Africa playing a key role in the strategy.

The investment in African movies means Netflix is giving filmmakers the opportunity to tell a wide range of African stories with the action movie genre at the forefront.

Action movie variations made in South Africa

This includes real-life stories such as Silverton Siege, which was directed by Mandla Dube and stars Thabo Rametsi, Arnold Vosloo, and Noxolo Dlamini. The movie provides a variation on the action genre through its portrayal of the 1980 siege by three anti-apartheid freedom fighters.

Wild is the Wind is another movie providing insights into specific South African themes. The film, directed by Fabian Medea and starring Mothusi Magano, Frank Rautenbach, and Chris Chameleon, highlights racial tension and corruption in South Africa as part of an investigation by two corrupt cops.

South Africa is a key strategy component

The ability of South African movies to take viewers on a journey to a different point in history is exemplified by Collision, directed by French filmmaker Fabien Martorell and starring Langley Kirkwood, Zoey Sneedon, and Siphesihle Vazi. The movie takes place in post-apartheid Johannesburg and features protagonists from different parts of society. The lives of a crime lord and a corrupt businessman cross when the tycoon’s daughter is kidnapped.

In the same way, Amandla, written and directed by Nerina De Jager, combines the action genre with a timeless tale of sibling rivalry as two brothers take alternative paths in life on different sides of the law. De Jager is able to tell a compelling story through this action movie variation.

Using action movies as a source of inspiration is also paying dividends in another area of the entertainment industry, namely the iGaming sector. In Africa, online casino real money slot titles based on the action movie genre include Cash Bandits Museum Heist, Desert Raider, and Fantasy Mission Force. These slot games, in the same way as African action movies, are able to attract fans of the genre as they immediately recognize the action theme through the titles, characters and visuals. The selection of innovative action games also demonstrates that the sector is able to interpret the action genre in multiple ways.

The search for Africa’s answer to Squid Game

Dorothy Ghettuba, Director of Original Series for Africa at Netflix, has identified a global interest in African stories and creativity and her overall aim is “to ensure that the next big ‘Squid Game’-like show comes from Africa.” The investment strategy in original movie content in Africa bucks the trend in streaming services as platforms look to tighten their belts by mothballing projects.

While the majority of African Netflix original content is produced in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, the streaming service is casting its net across Africa to showcase films from Tanzania, Mauritania, and Uganda as part of its short movie series African Folktales Reimagined.

With global subscribers stalling, Netflix has identified Africa as an untapped market with huge growth potential. The development gives moviemakers in South Africa and beyond the opportunity to present their history and stories to the world, with subtle variations on the action movie genre at the forefront.