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Meet Nigeria’s richest movie directors

Nollywood is nothing without its directors, who use their talents to bring African stories to life. In this feature, Daily Trust Saturday explores Nigeria’s wealthiest…

Nollywood is nothing without its directors, who use their talents to bring African stories to life. In this feature, Daily Trust Saturday explores Nigeria’s wealthiest movie directors, from seasoned veterans to rising stars shaping Nollywood’s future.

Funke Akindele – N2bn

Olufunke Ayotunde Akindele is a multifaceted figure in Nigeria’s entertainment industry, excelling as a filmmaker, actress, director, producer, and even dipping into politics. She holds the distinction of being the second director in Nigeria to achieve over a billion naira in box office revenue, and she currently stands as the highest-grossing Nigerian director with a staggering total gross exceeding N2.9 billion. Her directorial debut came with the 2019 political drama ‘Your Excellency’, which achieved significant success, grossing over N160m. 

Akindele further solidified her position in Nollywood as the producer and director of three record-breaking films, including ‘A Tribe Called Judah’, which amassed N1,392,113,579, ‘Battle on Buka Street’, bringing in N668,423,056, and ‘Omo Ghetto: The Saga’, with earnings totalling N636,129,120. Her financial success is evident by a net worth estimated at $1m. Additionally, Akindele boasts properties including a residence in the UK, a mansion in Lagos, and a fleet of cars valued at a total of N30m for a Jeep and N50m for a Rolls Royce Phantom, among others.

Niyi Akinmolayan – N1bn

With a diverse portfolio spanning directing, producing and screenwriting, Akinmolayan has emerged as one of the most influential voices in contemporary Nigerian cinema. Niyi Akinmolayan’s impressive filmography includes five entries among the top 50 highest-grossing Nigerian films: ‘The Wedding Party 2’ (2017), ‘Chief Daddy’ (2018), ‘Prophetess’ (2021), ‘My Village People’ (2021), and ‘The Set Up’ (2019).

Akinmolayan’s directorial prowess extends to various genres, including the Nigerian dance movie ‘Make a Move’ (2014), garnering acclaim and a nomination for Best Movie (Drama) at the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. His subsequent works, ‘Falling’ and ‘Out of Luck’, earned him a Best Director nomination at the 2016 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. In 2017, Akinmolayan’s film ‘The Arbitration’ screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, sparked the production of the short film ‘Room 315’ through a writing competition on his blog. His endeavours also include the production of the animated series ‘Adventures of Lola and Chuchu’ and executive production of ‘Malika: Warrior Queen’ in 2019.

Throughout his career, Akinmolayan’s dedication and talent have accumulated significant success, with his work amassing an estimated total revenue of N1,153,745,981.

Kayode Kasum – N760m

Kayode Kasum is a Nigerian filmmaker renowned for his contributions to both cinema and music videos. His career trajectory began as a motion graphics designer at Wale Adenuga Productions (WAP), followed by a stint as a producer in an advertising firm. In 2017, he made his directorial debut with ‘Dognapped’, Nigeria’s first live-action animation film.

However, it was his 2018 release, ‘Oga Bolaji’, that thrust him into the spotlight in Nollywood. Since then, he has been involved in notable productions like ‘Sugar Rush’ and Toyin Abraham’s ‘Fate of Alakada’.

With over 10,860 minutes of directing experience for MNET’s telenovela series ‘Unbroken’ and ‘Riona’, Kasum’s directorial credits span several acclaimed films, including ‘Sugar Rush’ (2019), ‘This Lady Called Life’ (2020), and the psychological horror ‘Ile Owo’ (House of Money) (2022).

Notably, Kasum’s ground-breaking work includes directing Nigeria’s first live-action animated movie and contributing to one of the country’s highest-grossing films to date. Recognised for his achievements, he received nominations for The Future Awards Africa 2019 and was listed among the top Nollywood directors of 2020. In 2023, his directorial efforts in ‘Something like Gold’, ‘Afamefuna’, and ‘Far From Home’, further established his reputation.

With earnings totalling N763.34m, Kasum stands as one of the wealthiest directors in Nollywood.

Kemi Adetiba – N680m

Kemi Adetiba is a Nigerian filmmaker, television director, and music video director, renowned for her diverse portfolio showcased on platforms such as Channel O, MTV Base, Sound City TV, BET, and Netflix. Transitioning from radio to television, Kemi excelled as both a producer and host on Mnet, spearheading shows like Studio 53 and Temptation Nigeria alongside Ikponmwosa Osakioduwa. Her on-screen talent extended to Soundcity TV, and she hosted Maltina Dance All for three consecutive seasons.

In September 2016, Kemi’s directorial debut, ‘The Wedding Party’, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), setting the stage for a remarkable career trajectory. Following this success, she directed the critically acclaimed ‘King of Boys’ in 2018, which grossed over N240m at the box office.

With her significant contributions to the Nigerian film industry, Kemi Adetiba has garnered both critical acclaim and financial success, earning her an estimated net worth of N697.06m, solidifying her status as one of the wealthiest movie directors in the industry.

Robert O Peters – N610 million

Renowned for his versatility, Robert O. Peters is a Nigerian filmmaker celebrated for his contributions as a producer, director, cinematographer, actor, and occasional voice-over artist, with an estimated value of N609.20m.

He rose to prominence with his directorial work on the 2014 Nollywood hit ‘30 Days in Atlanta’, followed by acclaimed projects such as ‘Shades of Attractions’ (2015), ‘Boxing Day’ (2016), and ‘A Trip to Jamaica’ (2016), featuring a stellar ensemble cast including Ayo Makun, Ramsey Nouah, Richard Mofe Damijo and Vivica Fox.

Peters began his career as an actor, debuting in Nigeria’s 1998 film ‘Mama Sunday’ and later appearing in the daytime series ‘Everyday People’ (2002). Following this, he pursued further education in Visual Storytelling at the New York University in 2004.

Transitioning into cinematography and film editing in 2006, Peters collaborated with various Hollywood and Nollywood filmmakers over the years, including Vivica Fox and Funke Akindele. His directorial prowess reached new heights with ‘30 Days in Atlanta’, which set records in the Nigerian box office, earning a place in the 2017 Guinness Book of Records for its remarkable domestic gross alongside esteemed films from Bollywood and Hollywood.

Moses Inwang – N500m

Moses Inwang is a notable Nigerian filmmaker recognised for his roles as a director, producer, editor, and screenwriter, with an estimated net worth of N499.99m. His cinematic contributions often address societal issues seldom explored in Nigerian cinema.

In 2004, Inwang founded Sneeze Films, debuting with ‘Save My Soul’, setting the stage for subsequent impactful works. Notable among these are ‘Lost Maiden’ (2008), which sheds light on female circumcision, and ‘Save Our Souls, addressing cancer-related issues. His 2011 film ‘Damage’ received critical acclaim for its portrayal of domestic violence, amassing various awards and nominations.

Inwang’s directorial skills matured with ‘Torn’ (2012), a psychological thriller that received widespread recognition. Subsequent hits, including ‘Merry Men 2’ (2019), solidified his reputation as a box office force. His 2017 release, ‘Alter Ego’, starring Omotola Jalade, earned international accolades, clinching awards at prestigious festivals. ‘Crazy People’ (2018) further strengthened his position as a top-tier filmmaker.

Biodun Stephen – N440m

Biodun Stephen, renowned for her expertise in crafting romantic dramas and comedies, stands as one of Nollywood’s wealthiest directors with a net gross of N436.17m.

In 2014, Stephen made her mark with ‘The Visit’, praised for its stellar cast and original storyline, earning two nominations at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

Transitioning from acting, Stephen pursued filmmaking to hone her skills and facilitate global communication, as she shared in a Tribune interview. Her 2017 film ‘Picture Perfect’ garnered five nominations and two wins at the Best of Nollywood Awards, showcasing her talent in storytelling and direction. She clinched the Best Director award at the 2016 Maya Awards.

Beyond filmmaking, Stephen hosts the weekend show ‘Whispers’ and heads Shutterspeed Projects – a Lagos-based production company.

Tope Adebayo – N398m

Tope Adebayo is a well-known Nigerian actor, producer, lawyer and director, ranking among the top-earning Nollywood directors in 2022. Son of the renowned Nollywood actor Adebayo Salami, famously known as Oga Bello, Tope gained fame for his performances in films like ‘Kinni Igbeyawo’ (2020), ‘King of Thieves’ (2022), and ‘Késárí the King’ (2023).

His notable contribution to ‘King of Thieves’ resulted in earnings of N320m, contributing to his reported net gross of N397.97m.


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