Movie lovers are picking more interest in Nigerian movies at a time when consumer incomes are shrinking and the prices of essential items are on the ascendancy.
Figures published by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) show that in 2018, three of the top 10 movies in cinemas across the country were of Nigerian make and raked over N200 million in revenues, equalling a record last set in the late 1990s.
The three movies include ‘King of Boys’, ‘Wedding Party’ and ‘30 Days in Atlanta’. One of those three movies (King of Boys) even eclipsed N300 million in a little under a month and has now lasted nearly four months in the cinemas, the longest period of any movie in more than a decade, according to CEAN data.
King of Boys, a crime thriller produced by 39-year old music and movie director, Kemi Adetiba.
Nigeria’s film industry has gone from when only one film grossed over N200 million in 2016 to three movies grossing more than N200 million in 2018.
In yet another sign of how much traction Nigerian movies are gaining, the top six earning movies in the cinemas during the highly competitive Christmas week were all of Nigerian make.
Curiously, all this is happening when the rate of unemployment has spiralled to a decade-high of 23.1 percent as at the end of the third quarter of 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and average incomes have shrunk every year since 2015.
Although the economy has exited recession in the second quarter of 2017, growth remains fragile at best.
Birth rate of nearly 3 percent has outpaced GDP growth, which averaged 1.7 percent in the first three quarters of 2018. The IMF sees contracting average incomes for another four years through 2022.
The price of goods and services were growing at an annual rate of 11.44 percent as at December 2018. Although it is down from as high as 18 percent in 2017, it remains above the Central Bank of Nigeria’s preferred band of between 6 to 9 percent. That has translated to a higher cost of living and piled pressure on household income.
The strain on consumer wallets in the last three years has reflected in the revenues of consumer goods companies who are grappling with declining sales.
It would appear, however, that the film industry has relatively fared better.
“In keeping with the general trend of significant year-on-year growth across the Nigerian entertainment industry, 2018 proved to be a largely good year for the sector and judging by sheer numbers, the film industry was undoubtedly the darling of the sector,” Lagos-based law firm, Olaniwun-Ajayi, said in a report this week.
“This bourgeoning growth has been spurred by increased capital injection from financial institutions as well as increased corporate tie-ins to content producers and some high net-worth individuals,” authors of the report said.
More capital is expected to find its way into the film industry this year and beyond, now that the Nigerian cinema box office numbers are being made public.
The numbers were first published in December 2018 by CEAN, a body comprising all the cinema owners in the country, which collaborated with ComScore to produce the first internationally accredited metric for film analytics in Nigeria.
This may prove to be one of the strongest deciding factors in fuelling investor confidence in the sector as it increases transparency in the industry, analysts say.
Investors will more easily be able to identify truly successful production houses and invest in visibly viable projects.
It will further give producers a more holistic understanding of the ratings of movies and thus assist in strategising marketing efforts as appropriate.
In addition to the foregoing, events such as the Nigerian International Film Summit have gone a long way towards consolidating efforts by stakeholders in the sector to increase professionalism, facilitate more opportunities for producers to sell Nigerian content internationally, and collaborate with international production houses.
“We see more summits like these being birthed, not just in Nigeria but sub-Saharan Africa,” the Olaniwun-Ajayi team said.
The rising allure of Nigerian movies has also prompted cinema owners to expand, with eyes on taking advantage of in-demand movies.
There has been an increase in cinema locations nationwide, with cinema chains such as Filmhouse, bringing their total outlets to 10 in six states and, Genesis cinemas increasing its presence to nine outlets in six states, according to research done by Olaniwun-Ajayi.