‘Boy Kills World’ Producers Nthibah Pictures Talk Ambitions For Growing South Africa’s Production Sector

South African production house Nthibah Pictures isn’t afraid to take risks. The company, which was established in 2018, is coming off the back of fully-financing upcoming big-budget, high-octane genre title Boy Kills World, which opens in the U.S. today (April 26) across nearly 2,500 screens. The film, which is being released by Lionsgate’s sister label Roadside Attractions, stars Bill Skarsgård and is produced with Sam Raimi and is, says Nthibah Pictures’ chairman Wayne Fitzjohn and CEO Simon Swart, one of the “biggest-budgeted” titles to come out of South Africa.

“Not only is it the biggest budget from a South African production company by some margin, but also we’ve doubled down on the P&A,” says Fitzjohn.

“We raised the P&A [for the release] as well,” says Swart of the Moritz Mohr-directed project, which was shot entirely in South Africa. The film centers on Skarsgård’s Boy, who vows revenge after his family is murdered by Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the deranged matriarch of a corrupt post-apocalyptic dynasty that left the boy orphaned, deaf and voiceless.

It’s a big gamble for a film that is seeing early industry estimates for previews at around $500K but, says the duo, is reflective of the ambition that the burgeoning production outfit is capable of. Established by venture capital company Talent10 Holdings Investment Group in 2018, Nthibah Pictures has been working hard to build the company from the ground up in South Africa and there are big ambitions to create franchises from its IP.

“The idea was to produce content in South Africa, manage budgets really tightly, stretch every dollar and create content in South Africa for the global marketplace,” says Swart of the early beginnings of the company.

He adds: “A lot of productions and studios – Netflix, Amazon and the big studios – have been shooting major portions of movies and entire movies and TV series down in South Africa. It’s really good for business but all the upside goes overseas. We want to position ourselves as a global company that’s based in South Africa but has a very global point of view and, to create upside, we would fundamentally own a lot of the stuff that we are actually producing.”

With offices in Johannesburg and Los Angeles, Nthibah Pictures has credits including crime drama I Am All Girls and D.J. Caruso-directed Redeeming Love. It recently received $50M in funding from its parent outfit Talent10 and has just greenlit new sci-fi fantasy Project Legion, directed by Jozua Malherbe.

The company also currently developing a nostalgic arcade video came called Super Dragon Punch Force 2, which features in Boy Kills World, with its game development studio partner Talent Digital Art. Additionally, the company has greenlit development on a new animated sci-fi television series inspired by the video game with Mario Carvalhal (The Search for Wondla) attached as a writer. Development is already underway on the unnamed series, which will delve further into the Super Dragon Punch Force 2 universe.

It’s a space the company says it has “big plans” to grow into.

In a new development, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) has earmarked Nthibah Pictures for a multi-million investment in order to grow South Africa’s entertainment industry. The IDC is a self-financing, development finance institution formed in South Africa in 1940 to promote economic growth and industrial development in South Africa.

“We’ve got something pretty special and we’re trying to be inspirational and stimulate a very tough economic situation,” says Fitzjohn of building the local South African business. “If there is more infrastructure, if there are more locations and more studios and soundstages and we’ve got more editors and more DoPs and more production designers, we can really make a difference.”

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