• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Nollywood comes to rescue as cinema revenue dips

Nigerian cinemas

With the drop in foreign contents, especially Hollywood, since the first quarter of 2020 across cinemas in Nigeria, Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry, has taken advantage of the lack to boost quality local content production for the Nigerian audience.

Presently, Nigerian cinemas, which run half capacity in line with social distancing since the lifting of the 2020 lockdown, are now looking more to local content producers and distributors. This is as foreign contents are likely going to show on cinemas in Nigeria soon, considering the fact that Hollywood did not produce content last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

From 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, to The Milkmaid, which earned Grammy nomination, there were quality local content that glued the Nigerian audience to cinemas across the country.

Omo Ghetto, a movie produced by Funke Akindele, released on December 25, 2020, grossed N187 million in less than a week in the cinemas, and the first Nigerian movie to be released in UAE, Dubai cinemas.

The movie, the highest grossing Nigerian movie in 2020, is a testimony to the high quality local content production by Nollywood.

As well, Fate of Alakada grossed over N28 million within four days of its release on October 1, 2020. So far, it has grossed N113 million, making it the second highest-grossing figures for the post-lockdown period, and better content quality than Wonder Woman, its competitor from Hollywood.

Likewise, many other movies impressed the Nigerian cinema goers with quality content post Covid-19 period till now as foreign contents are yet to arrive.

Confirming the good development, an anonymous official at Filmone, a Nigerian cinema company, said, “In the first quarter of last year, there was a drop in Hollywood movies as studios pushed their films to later this year aside from Wonder Woman.”

But the lack of foreign contents, according to him, played in the favour of Nollywood, which took advantage of the lack by releasing quality contents. “For example, Omo Ghetto tickets are still selling up till now, and it cleared the doubts of some filmmakers who feared that low capacity in cinemas would affect their revenues. Despite the restriction, people turned out to watch Omo Ghetto because of the high quality of the content,” he said.

Notwithstanding the many quality local contents, the once booming cinema business, which rode on the recent renaissance of cinema culture across the country to boom, seems to be losing out again as the 2020 festive season sales recorded huge decline, instead of surpassing the previous year’s earnings, no thanks to Covid-19.

According to data released by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the industry earned N683.6 million for movie ticket sales for the festive season period of between December 20, 2019 and January 2, 2020, while earning N506.3 million in the same period for the 2020/2021 festive sales, representing a N177-million revenue decline.

The decline is coming when industry stakeholders were anticipating almost double in the 2020 revenue, as Nigerian cinema industry has maintained a sustainable revenue growth in the last 10 years, which has also resulted in huge investment in the business and proliferation of cinemas across the country in recent time.

Speaking on the sales, Femi Oke, a member of Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, noted that though there was a N177-million decline in revenue, the industry was impressive to have achieved such despite the impact of the pandemic.

“We all anticipated good returns on our investments, but like other businesses, the pandemic made it impossible to achieve all set revenue targets for 2020,” Oke said.

According to Adeola Daramola, a film critic and university don, there was no way any cinema would have made profit because of the pandemic and the challenges that came with it.

“From March 2020, when the lockdown was enforced to September, when some cinemas started opening, no cinema made money, The festive season was their respite and it was really an impressive result despite the decline,” Daramola said.

Speaking further, the film critic noted that the decline was expected as cinemas across the country run at half capacity, while Lagos, which hosts about 50 percent of the cinemas run at 33 percent capacity till now, in line with social distancing.

For Mike Ahuruonye, a movie director, despite the decline, the 2020 festive season sales were impressive going by the unprecedented 2020 and the many challenges.

“If you consider that Lagos cinemas were allowed only 33 percent capacity while other states operated 50 percent capacity, to ensure social distance, then the sales were impressive. It would have been double of that revenue if cinemas had operated full capacity during the festive season,” Ahuruonye said.

Explaining how cinemas managed to stay afloat under half capacity, Jeremy Onah, cinema manager at The Palms Lekki, noted, “We show movies that people like by increasing the number of viewing frequency times per day. Nigerian consumers love premium good quality content and despite the pandemic, people still came to watch movies. So, the many frequencies covered for the 33 percent capacity in our six cinemas in Lagos.”

Meanwhile, industry experts expect the trend of the boom in local contents to continue as the pandemic is still impacting foreign movie production more than Nollywood.