Nollywood: Bracing for new opportunities

APA – Lagos (Nigeria)

Nigeria’s Nollywood has defied its challenges at the formative years to become the world’s most prolific film industry, according to the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations.

Although filmmaking in Nigeria was already thriving in the 1960s, the domestic video industry, Nollywood, made a dramatic leap in 1992 with the release of the thriller Living in Bondage. The film, written by Kenneth Nnebue and Okechukwu Ogunjiofor, tells the story of a businessman who killed his wife in a human sacrifice ritual that made him rich overnight, but was thereafter haunted by the wife’s ghost. It instantly became the first Nigerian blockbuster.

Since then, thousands of films released have been successful, but his Living in Bondage sparked the revival of the domestic video industry, which had started some decades before it.

According to a Nigerian writer, Steve Omanufeme, after decades of slow growth, Nollywood is now one of the largest film industries in the world in terms of number of films produced. Today, Nollywood ranks second behind India’s Bollywood in terms of number of films produced. However, Nollywood maintains its third place in global ranking with Hollywood of the United States and India’s Bollywood occupying the first and second positions respectively.

“The industry currently accounts for N853.9 billion (about $3 billion) or 1.42 percent of Nigeria’s GDP. It employs more than a million people directly or indirectly. It is being touted as the country’s second-biggest source of jobs after agriculture.

“Based on the sheer quantity and quality of films being made, economic observers consider Nollywood one of the major planks on which to diversify the Nigerian economy, Omanufeme said in his article published by Finance & Development of the IMF.

Nollywood has since matured and embraced modern technology in the production its films. The industry has of late been attraction foreign and local support to grow the sector.

For instance, the industry experienced an explosion in 2018 and the actors and producers were quick to acknowledge it.

“2018 was a great year for Nollywood and we were all pleased by the new developments”. They listed the visit of Hakeem Kassim, a musical artist to Nigeria to help train a rising group of filmmakers, while Senator Ben Murray-Bruce confirmed in March 2018, that he was planning to build the first ever Nollywood film studio in Lagos. In its review of the Nigerian entertainment industry in 2018, Premium Times, a Nigerian online publication said that 2018 had been a pretty good year for the Nigerian entertainment industry, attributing the successes to the growing smartphone and internet penetration in the country.

“For Nollywood, it appeared that aggressive social media campaigns, backed with corporate tie-ins, did the trick. From a revenue standpoint, the box office figures have been mind boggling yet difficult to substantiate, with the records shrouded in secrecy,” the review said.

According to the review, Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry revenue witnessed a 25.5 percent growth. This amounted to $3.8 billion with $605 million of the estimated $764 million rise said to be attributable to internet access. This is according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria.

Nollywood, which is currently the third largest in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood, has Internet access revenue accounting for 89.6 percent of this absolute growth.

The PwC report also said that a 21.5 percent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) is anticipated to 2022, with revenue reaching US$9.9 billion in that year.

On the issue of piracy in the industry, the review noted that even though the Nigerian Copyright Act 2004 criminalises the infringement of intellectual property and theft, piracy has remained a booming business in Nigeria.

“Piracy of Nigerian creative works bit harder in 2018 extending outside the shores of the country. Not too long ago, the grand patron of Nigeria’s Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Andy Boyo, drew attention to the growing rate at which Nigerian movies are pirated in some African countries like Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. He added that the activities were being carried out by Nigerians in these countries.

The review listed Nollywood’s big news in 2018 as Netflix’s acquisition of Genevieve Nnaji’s yet-to-be-released movie titled “Lion Heart”.

It noted that while Lionheart is not the only Nigerian movie listed on the American movie streaming platform, it is the first original Nollywood film to be bought by the American movie streaming platform. Other Nollywood films currently showing on Netflix include The Wedding Party, Fifty, The Visit, When Love Happens, Road to Yesterday and Dearest Mummy.

The review also said that four Nigerians also made The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences diverse list of 928 members. The Academy, popularly known as the Oscars, made visibly improved racial and gender considerations in the 2018 list.

“Among the diverse invitees are Nigerian actresses Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Wunmi Mosaku; film producer and directors Femi Odugbemi and Ngozi Onwurah,” it added.

Aside from the milestones of 2018, this year has recorded some activities that will assist in growing the industry. In April this year, Nigeria’s National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and the Alliance Francaise signed an agreement to showcase and distribute the movies of the two countries through the “French-Nigerian Film Distribution Conference”.

The agreement was signed Mr Adedayo Thomas, Executive Director of the board and Mr Arnand Durnon, Director of the Institue Francaise on behalf of the two organisations.

Thomas said that the collaboration was to present a platform where investors, producers, distributors and other stakeholders in the motion picture industries of both countries could meet for mutually beneficial deals.

He noted that the collaborative venture will, among other incentives, encourage and promote the distribution of Nollywood movies in France.

In July this year, 12 Nigerian film projects were presented to French filmmakers at the maiden edition of the French-Nigeria Cinema Days for co-production deals.

The films written and to be directed by Nigerian filmmakers were announced at an event on July 3 at the Alliance Francaise in Lagos State.

Mr. Yoann Talhouarne, Regional Audiovisual Attaché, Embassy of France in Nigeria, said that over 50 Nigerian film proposals were submitted from where the 12 were selected.

He explained that the directors of the selected films will work with some of the French film professionals and distributors, including Loco Films,Canal+ International,Arizona Films, Orange Studio and Les Filmsd’ici, Colona Films, Indie Prod and JBA Production and Page 49, and that the areas of possible collaboration will include funding, production, marketing and distribution.

In the area of local funding support, ACCESS Bank Plc organised a two-day forum in Lagos last week for stakeholders from four sectors of the creative industry, which included the movie industry. The others are music, fashion and information technology.

The forum was to ensure that the players in the creative industry have access to the N20 billion fund under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), which has 9% interest rate per annum and a repayment period of 10 years.

Despite the challenges of piracy, the increasing interests of foreign firms to collaborate with Nollywood in the areas of film production and distribution and the credit window provided by the Nigerian central bank, Nollywood remains the promising gold mine for the stakeholders in the industry.


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