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How Charles Okpaleke picks classic Nollywood films to remake

Charles of Play says he loves a good opportunity to portray the lifestyle and glamour of his brand.

Charles Okpaleke's sequel to the Living in Bondage classic was the biggest winner at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards (AMVCA) [PM News]

Okpaleke's Play Network Studios made a big splash last year with Living In Bondage: Breaking Free, a sequel to 1992 classic, Living In Bondage.

The sequel made over N160 million during its cinema run, and won seven awards at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Play Network has acquired the rights to remake other Nollywood classics including Rattlesnake, Nneka the Pretty Serpent, and Glamour Girls.

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Osuofia Goes To Miami, a sequel to 2003 comedy, Osuofia in London, is also in the works for a 2021 release.

Quizzed during a virtual press conference on Thursday, September 24, 2020 about his process selecting what to remake, Okpaleke said it's more instincts than anything else.

He said, "I just go with my instincts.

"I also like a story that allows me integrate the essence of Play Network which is lifestyle networking.

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"That's why I'm excited about a film like Glamour Girls and Osuofia Goes To Miami because they give me an opportunity to portray the lifestyle and glamour Play Network sells."

Okpaleke announced at the press conference for Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story that the film will premiere in cinemas on November 13, confident that it would excite audiences.

"I think Rattlesnake is going to be the biggest film this year," he said.

Amaka Igwe's 1994 classic is about a young man forced to take to a life of crime after the suspicious death of his father and ensuing cruelty of his uncle.

Stan Nze will star as the remake's titular Ahanna, with an ensemble supporting cast that includes Osas Ighodaro, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Chiwetalu Agu, Sonny McDon, Nobert Young, Ejike Asiegbu, and Fred Amata.

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Others include Bucci Franklin, Efa Iwara, AY Makun, Emeka Nwagbaraocha, Brutus Richards, Odera Adimorah, Elma Mbadiwe, Tobi Bakare, Chinyere Wilfred, Cassandra Odita, and Gloria Young.

Director of The Ahanna Story, Ramsay Nouah, said at the press conference the original was quite tricky to work with, and equally easy to retool for the present demographic of viewers.

He said, "The good thing about Rattlesnake is that it is a story of any day and any era. You could use it at any time.

"The story will still remain the same and resonate, because the ills of the story back then is still happening in our society till tomorrow."

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Nouah, who also directed Living In Bondage: Breaking Free, noted that the strength of nostalgia is what's currently driving the Play Network team into rebooting old classics.

He said the success and appreciation of Breaking Free based off nostalgia spurred the team's resolve to push ahead with a remake of Rattlesnake.

"From our perspective, we're doing it to bring back classics, and try and put together great performances as they were back then.

"As long as there's nostalgia, classics that can stand the test of time will definitely at some point be remade," the veteran actor said.

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Writer of the remake, Nicole Asinugo, said The Ahanna Story is reimagined for the present demographic of viewers and will show some fringe characters in the original in new light.

She said writing the script for the film was also a bit more unique than writing for Living In Bondage: Breaking Free, for which she was awarded 'Best Writer' alongside CJ Obasi at the 2020 AMVCA.

"There was such attention to detail with this one. There were four drafts for this to get to the final one.

"I think this was a little bit more meticulous," she said.

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The remake of 1992's Nneka the Pretty Serpent is also set to hit cinemas before the end of 2020, according to Okpaleke.

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