Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry, has transcended the borders of the country to other parts of Africa and indeed the globe. It has repositioned Africa’s movie industry, becoming the second largest in the world in terms of film output, surpassing Hollywood in the United States, and second only to India’s Bollywood. According to Norimitsu Onishi, the journalist who helped coin the term ‘Nollywood’, it produces about 2,500 films a year.
The last decade was remarkable for Nollywood, as it recorded multi-faceted successes in the cinema sphere, production, international festival screenings and Netflix deals. No wonder the world stood still just to observe its giant strides.
With over 40 films per week, at an average cost of $40,000 per project, Nollywood has metamorphosed into a $590m industry in just two decades.
In 2016, Nollywood filmmakers cracked the challenge of low patronage in various cinema houses across Nigeria by paying detailed attention to the quality of movies produced in the country. One of the movies that revived the cinema, and by extension the movie industry, is Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife film, The Wedding Party, a romantic comedy directed by Kemi Adetiba, which took Nigerians and the international community by surprise.
The Wedding Party is a classic movie of many shades dotted by slangs, comedy and suspense. Featuring first-rate actors, it remains the highest grossing Nigerian movie till date, raking in N452m.
The success story of Nollywood cannot be complete without a mention of two commercial platforms, Africa Magic and Iroko TV. The former, a 24-hour paid television channel, streams Nollywood movies directly into people’s homes and offices, while the latter is an online streaming platform from where movies are downloaded on the go.
Nollywood’s great accomplishments have enthralled global audiences who now seek to collaborate with Nigerian actors. The movie, Ije, is one of those international collaborations.
The industry’s international acceptability is no longer hearsay. The movies are making tremendous inroad into international platforms like the Oscars in the U.S. and Cannes film festival in France. The recent submission of Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lion Heart’ to the Oscars and the feature of Abudu’s ‘The Wedding Party’ in Cannes are two cases in point.
Nollywood accounts for $7.2bn of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and directly employs more than a million Nigerians, which makes it possibly Nigeria’s second largest source of employment aside agriculture. It generates $590m annually, and still has great economic potential.
This great feat by the industry did not come without challenges. It had to contend with the dominance of the digital versatile disc menu provided mostly by Hollywood and Bollywood movies, which enjoyed high patronage of Nigerians. Again, its prolific nature at the expense of quality production elicited distaste by many Nigerians for Nollywood at the time. They considered the production mediocre.
However, this narrative has changed remarkably, as Nollywood has re-invented herself by investing heavily in the production of quality movies with good storylines. It now enjoys positive reviews and patronage from many Nigerians. As it is, most households cannot have a fulfilled day until the see at least a Nigerian movie.
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