BusinessDay

Nigerian cinemas shed pandemic blues earn N2.4bn in 2021 ticket sales

Nigeria’s cinema industry emerged stronger from the ravages of a global pandemic last year with ticket sales doubling figures realized in 2020.

The total weekend movie ticket sales rose by 100 percent to N2.4 billion in 2021 from N1.2 billion in 2020 according to data by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN).

However, this figure was 41.5 percent lower than the N4.1 billion recorded as ticket sales in 2019.

Analysts say the data suggests the industry is shaking off the impact of the coronavirus pandemic paving way for better performance in 2022.

“If there is no severe disruption in the sector this year, we should see movie ticket sales getting to the level of 2019 or slightly higher,” said Damilola Adewale, a Lagos-based economic analyst

The postponement of Hollywood box office releases because of the pandemic in 2020 drove turnout in 2021 after countries began opening up cinemas previously shut down to contain the virus.

Nigerian Cinemas total weekend movie ticket sales

Taiwo Ogunlade, an official at Filmone, a Nigerian cinema company, said he is optimistic that 2022 will see an improved performance due to big Hollywood movies like Black Panther II, The Batman, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Avatar 2 among others expected to be released in 2022.

The resurgence of cinema culture in Nigeria is driven by a growing middle class in the cities, increased investment in production quality and millennials who have come to accept cinema as an entertainment lifestyle choice, analysts say.

In the past, Nigerians converged at cinemas to watch foreign movies but recently, people are beginning to appreciate the local movies at the cinemas.

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In 2020, the industry became one of the worst-hit, as it recorded zero activity and revenue for six months (late March-Late September) occasioned by the lockdown and safety measures imposed by the government at the peak of the fight against the pandemic.

When the cinemas opened in September, there were fears that challenges such as operating at 60 percent capacity and low-quality foreign content could affect revenues.

“Our market is usually content dependent. It depends on what type and quality of films are coming out that year,” Ogunlade said.

Nollywood took advantage of the lack of foreign content by releasing quality local films like Omo Ghetto, Fate of Alakada, Quam’s Money, Dear Affy, Rattlesnake: The Ahanna Story, Who’s the Boss, This Lady Called Life, Voiceless, Ìfé, Introducing The Kujus, The Ghost and The Tout 2, Bad comments, King of Boys – Return of the King, Aki and Paw, Namaste Wahala, etc. These movies glued the Nigerian audience to cinemas across the country.

According to CEAN data, cinemas made N20.6 million from movie ticket weekend sales in the month of September 2020.

The numbers improved from there, as cinemas earned N27.6 million in the opening weekend of October, figure movie distributors assured would increase to N30 million weekly and over N100 million at the end of October.

“The situation is getting better and more people are willing to go to the cinemas now,” Josephine Okaka, a film distributor said.

She adds, “We now maximise the viewing times for a good film so that we can increase revenue.”

Though many fear that Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant may yet further disrupt the sector, forcing governments to impose new restrictions, industry operators say this would have limited impact as they are innovating new ways to stay afloat. They also believe the availability of vaccines would help cushion the impact.