Why are Nigerian Filmmakers not adapting our books into movies?

Not every Nigerian is interested in watching an African adaptation of “Desperate Housewives,” or Patience Ozokwor as the wicked step mother, or going to the cinema to watch movies like Rukky Sanda’s “Golddigging.”


Many of the most successful Hollywood films and series we love are based on literary works, Novels, plays, short stories or biographies.

The above mentioned are without doubt great source of inspiration for films.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ series, ‘Harry Potter’ series, ‘The Hunger Games’ “Game of Thrones,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Twighlight,” “The Fault in our Stars,” “The Notebook” among others are few of the most successful films and series based on novels.

Nollywood has given us some very great movies over the past years. Movies like “Tango with Me,” “The Figurine,” “Being Mrs Elliott,” “Dazzling Mirage,” “Gbomo Gbomo Express,” “Adesuwa,” “October 1,” “A Soldier’s Story,” “Confusion Na Wa,” among others.

The industry has also offered lots of entertaining straight to DVD movies, some of which are repeated stories, and unnecessary sequels.

If we lack new stories to tell, and have to rely on “sequels” and repeat stories, why can’t we resort to our literatures?

Nigerian literature is one of the richest. There are so many classic Nigerian novels, which can be portrayed on big screen.

Why are 60% of our filmmakers struggling with stories? Why can’t our novels be adapted for the big screen?

Is it that they are not financially or intellectually capable of adapting classics?

Maybe they think Nigerians won’t be interested in such stories.  But the likes of Tunde Kelani, who adapted Bayo Adebowale’s “The Virgin,” Femi Osofisan’s “Maami,” and Olayinka Abimbola Egbokhare’s “Dazzling Mirage,” proves that our Nigerian stories would actually sell.

Instead of recycling old stories, and making me watch Chinwetalu Agu always being the wicked village uncle, our filmmakers could buy the rights to some of our Nigerian books, and then get scriptwriters to screenplay them.

But before these filmmakers can adapt these books, do they even know about them? Have they read them? Do they know the likes of and books like

You can’t give what you don’t have. If they don’t know all these books, and novelists, how exactly would they tell stories based on some of our classic novels?

I understand some of the fears our filmmakers might have. Of course, there’s the possibility of the film falling short of the reader and author’s expectation.

There have been cases where the author couldn’t stop interfering with the movie production, because they felt more could have been done to make the movie a better one.


Some filmmakers also feel that Nigerians are not ready for movies adapted from books, and thus the movie won’t be rewarding financially, but the truth is, not every movie watcher is that dumb.

Not every Nigerian out there is interested in watching an African adaptation of  “Desperate Housewives,” or Patience Ozokwor being the wicked step mother, or going to the cinema to watch a movie like Rukky Sanda’s “Golddigging.”

Some Nigerians are interested in seeing a screen adaptation of books like “Joys of Motherhood,” “Passport of Mallam Illia,” and “The Drummer Boy.”

The Kunle Afolayan movie “The Figurine,” is far from being a typical Nollywood film, but it was a hit at the Nigerian box office.

No matter how much Nigerians claim not to be interested in Nollywood, they would always support a movie with a good storyline, positive reviews, and perfect cast.

The positive reception of movies like “The Meeting,” “Flower Girl,” ‘Invasion 1897,” “Tango With Me,” among others, prove that Nigerians are indeed interested in quality stories.

It might take a long time to get Nigerians to support our film industry as they should, but we need to be given more quality stories first.

The industry needs to produce less of those “pure water movies and actors,” and make the quality ones somehow more accessible.

The industry needs to tell stories that are close to home, and what better source of stories than our books.

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Check out 10 Nigerian Novels that I think could be adapted into movies;

Which Nigerian book would you love to see adapted into a movie?


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