• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Why AMVCA gold doesn’t always mean box office success

How Africa’s biggest film awards created 27,000 jobs in 10 years

Every year, movie studios release a slew of films in the hopes of achieving critical and commercial success. While some films achieve both, there are many movies that win awards but fail to make a significant impact at the box office or streaming services.

In the 2022 edition of the African Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA), Collision Course won the Best Movie (West Africa) category while the ‘Best Overall Movie’ category went to ‘Amina’ by Izu Ojukwu and Okey Ogunjiofor. Though they were carefully selected by the voting committee, Funke Akindele’s ‘Omo Ghetto The Saga’ was the highest grossing movie at the box office that year.

Another example, ‘Man on Ground’ by Paul Michelson which won the ‘Best Drama Movie’ and ‘Best Cinematographer’ award at the 2013 AMVCAs was not the most successful film of its time. Though not nominated for an award at the AMVCA, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by the late Biyi Bandele became the highest grossing film (N60 million) before being overtaken by ‘ ‘Wedding Party’ in 2016.

This phenomenon has puzzled industry insiders for years, and there are several factors that may explain why movies that win awards don’t always win at the box office.

One reason why award-winning movies may not perform well at the box office is that they often tackle difficult or controversial subject matter. These films may be critically acclaimed, but they may not appeal to a wide audience.

Read also: African creative industry on spotlight as 9th AMVCA weekend kicks off

For example, the movie ‘Collision Course’ by Bolanle Austen-Peters which won the AMVCA for Best movie West Africa in 2022, explores themes of police brutality in Nigeria which led up to the ‘Endsars’ protest of 2020. While the film received widespread critical acclaim, it wasn’t among the top 10 most viewed films on Netflix Nigeria, ranking below films like Anikulapo; The Griot; Breaded Life; and Chief Daddy 2.

Another reason why award-winning movies may struggle at the box office is that they may not receive sufficient marketing or promotion. Studios may prioritize promoting blockbuster movies with established franchises, leaving smaller, independent films to leverage on the content to market itself .

The average amount budgeted for movie promotion in Nollywood is over N10 million yet filmmakers who desire to make big money at the box office know they have to spend money on marketing to achieve huge returns at the box office.

Over the years, filmmakers like Funke Akindele are known to be very vocal and practical when promoting their films. This strategy has led to her films like Omo Ghetto: The Saga and Battle On Buka Street attaining ‘Highest Grossing Nollywood movie’ status.

This lack of promotion can make it difficult for award-winning movies to reach a wider audience and compete with more mainstream studio productions at the box office or views in streaming platforms.

In addition, award-winning movies may be released in limited theaters, making it harder for them to reach a wider audience. This strategy, known as a “platform release,” is often used for smaller, independent films. While this approach can generate buzz and critical acclaim, it may not result in significant box office returns. For example, the movie ‘Parasite’ which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2020, was initially released in only a few theaters before expanding to more locations. While the film was a critical and commercial success, it did not achieve the same level of box office success as other Best Picture winners.

Another factor that may contribute to the disconnect between award-winning movies and box office success is the changing landscape of movie distribution. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, more viewers are opting to watch movies from the comfort of their own homes. This shift in consumer behavior may make it harder for smaller, independent films to find an audience in theaters.

Big production companies also leverage on customer behavior and are moving to release their movies directly on streaming platforms like Kunle Afolayan Production or after their time at the cinemas like Greoh studios does with movies like Brotherhood, and The Trade.

It’s worth noting that box office success is not always an accurate indicator of a movie’s quality or cultural impact. Some of the most influential and celebrated movies in Nollywood’s cinematic history, such as ‘October 1’ and ‘76’ never reached the N100 million gross. These films have since gone on to become classics and have had lasting impact on telling the Nigerian story.