How Nollywood Became World Second Largest Film Industry
Nigeria’s film industry is huge, both in productivity and reach. But how did it get to this stage and what are its origins?
The term ‘Nollywood’ was coined by the New York Times journalist Norimitsu Onishi in 2002 when he observed film-making activity in Lagos, Nigeria. The term mirrors two of the most famous areas of film production: Hollywood in the US, and Bollywood in India’s Bombay. For some, Nollywood encapsulates the array of actors and actresses emerging from the film-making activity in Nigeria; for others, it refers to the collection of the thousands of movies that have been made there.
However, Nollywood is best understood as referring to the process of film-making in Nigeria, where the films are produced using any and all tools available, adequate or otherwise. This can mean creating movies in volatile and uncertain conditions, often with incredibly short turnaround times. Observing this seemingly impossible production environment is what inspired Norimitsu to coin the term ’Nollywood’, which really refers to ‘nothing wood’, i.e., creating something out of nothing, we have come from ‘nothing’ to all that the world acknowledges today.
The first operators in Nollywood created stories and scripts that fitted into what was being produced at the time, while supporting a business model that guaranteed profit. The early stories were united by popular themes such as love, marriage and conflicts with mothers-in-law. Film-makers produced clusters of movies based on those themes until the trend tapped out and a new one took its place. But the themes of love, betrayal, conflict, deception and triumph unite most of the stories.
Early Nollywood movies reflect the colourful culture, architecture and, in many cases, the relative affluence in our Nigerian societies, while remaining true to authentic, believable storytelling. Stories had to resonate with target audiences and be supported by a strong cast, usually with at least one popular figure. The films were often shot in residences and offices over the course of a few days, and in iconic vehicles, such as BMWs and Mercedes, which were hired for short-term use.
More recently, however, global recognition has brought about bigger budgets, with interest from institutional finance, and more mainstream productions. The producers of Half of a Yellow Sun, for example, raised most of their estimated GBP 4.2 million budget from local investors in Nigeria. This development has somewhat diluted the inventive, cutting-edge instincts of the early film-makers in Nollywood.
In the early days, movies like Living in Bondage, Rattle snake, Violated, Glamour Girls, and Nneka the Pretty Serpent were financially very successful. In more recent times, movies like 30 Days in Atlanta, October 1, Ije, and The Meeting have also earned awards and critical acclaim. The jury is still out on the business success of these movies, as there are cries of rampant piracy. Though piracy was present in the early days of Nollywood, it was better handled then. Our main objective then was to be profitable, so we factored piracy into our profit calculations, as we didn’t have the resources to deal with piracy according to US or UK models.
Livingin Bondage provided imagery to a widely believed urban legend: human sacrifice for riches. Rattlesnake identified the strenuous path to success for a young man bearing great responsibilities early in his life, brought on by the loss of a parent and the oppression of extended family. Violated brought on the glamour of high society and the discrimination against the less fortunate, the hook being the triumph of love over these barriers. Glamour Girls had the benefit of iconic actors and elegant locations, telling a story of widely believed deception. 30 Days in Altlanta typified the increasing desire among film-makers to film abroad and alongside Hollywood talent.
Nollywood was unplanned – it sprang from the interplay of a few unique coincidences and circumstances.
Initially, it shared its audiences with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), equivalent to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the UK. Between 1970 and 1990, the NTA created and broadcast a rich slate of compelling television shows, including The Village Headmaster, Cock Crow at Dawn, Mirror in the Sun, Behind the Clouds, Supple Blues, Checkmate and Ripples.
The NTA was the sole broadcaster of media content back then. When NTA made a decision in 1990 to stop producing media content, it released its in-house talent – and, most importantly, its audiences to other operators. Nollywood’s talent came from actors, writers, directors and producers who cut their teeth in the NTA environment, and who had benefited from state-sponsored training, albeit for television production.
The role of technology is crucial to the story of Nollywood’s evolution. Video cassettes and video cassette recorders had gained wide popularity in Nigeria on the back of a high-spending civilian government.
Nigeria has long known about conventional film-making; however, a visionary young trader (Kenneth Nnebue) with a passion for films thought that combining the talent from the NTA with VHS (Video Home System) technology to meet the demand of Nigerians hungry for new entertainment was a good idea. The result was the straight-to-video release of Living in Bondage, a film whose commercial success effectively launched a whole film industry.
Alongside these events, digital technology was rapidly replacing audio- and videotape in both music and film industries around the world. This resulted in huge stockpiles of discarded VHS cassettes in vast warehouses all over Lagos and the south-east of Nigeria (Onitsha and Aba).
‘VHS cassettes were an inexpensive way to distribute straight-to-video movie releases.’
The rapid sales of Living in Bondage revealed a way to capitalise on the large numbers of unused VHS cassettes in storage, namely by using them as an inexpensive way to distribute straight-to-video movie releases. This business model became the primary way to finance the making of more movies.
Another critical development in Nollywood came as its films started to reach new audiences abroad. Prior to the mass production of movies in Nigeria, Africans and people of African descent had only been served by film or video produced by either Europeans or Americans.
Nollywood made it possible for Africans to view films made by fellow Africans on a huge scale for the first time. The movies dissolved a lot of the mutual suspicion and mistrust, and encouraged intra-African tourism, trade and engagement, as the films cast light on common traditions, habits and cultures across the continent. They cultivated a massive African audience as a result. To date, this has not changed and has led to several other African countries, e.g., Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa, getting involved in this kind of film production.
There is, however, a concern that many new film-makers are seeking validation and acceptance too eagerly from the mainstream global film industry. This raises questions about whether, by trying to emulate mainstream film production, they are sacrificing the advantages that have made Nollywood the second largest film industry in the world in the first place.
By: Charles Igwe
Igwe is CEO, Nollywood global media.
Memorable Landmarks In Nigeria’s Entertainment Industry
The Nigerian entertainment industry is unarguably one of the profitable industries in the country. The Tide Entertainment reports that the fast-growing industry will generate $14.8 billion revenue in 2025. The industry revenue is expected to rise from $7.7 billion in 2021 to $9 billion in 2022, $10.7 billion in 2023, $12.6 billion in 2024 and $14.8 billion in 2025. 85% of this revenue will be generated by access to the Internet.
The Tide Entertainment
gathered that Nigeria’s media and entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing creative industries in the world. It has the capability to become the country’s greatest export, with projected annual growth rate of 8.6 per cent and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.3per cent from 2018-2023.
In 2021, Nigeria’s film industry contributed 2.3per cent and about N239 billion ($660 million) to GDP and predicts that the industry will increase its export revenue earnings to over $1 billion. The motion picture and music recording industry exceeded 2020 estimated $806 million revenue contributing about N730 billion to the country’s GDP.
The traditional TV and home video segment is the industry’s second-largest market. However, due to competition from other segments, its market share is projected to decline from 9% to 6% contrary to its expected rise from $692m in 2021 to $865m in 2025. Therefore, this led to the key players in the sector capitalizing on the internet wave. For instance, Arise TV, Channels TV and Television Continental (TVC) have advanced towards the internet to retain their relevance in the media sector.
The market share of newspaper and consumer magazine, out-of-home advertising, and TV advertising sub-sectors are expected to reduce to one percent each by 2025 with their revenue at $173 million, $158 million, and $179 million respectively.
The Nigerian Film Industry (Nollywood) is globally recognised as the second largest film producer in the world with the financial value of the film industry put at $6.4 billion as of 2021. Nollywood contributes 2.3 per cent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with over 2500 movies produced annually.
According to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, every Nollywood movie that has a theatrical release has collectively grossed more than N800 million, with some of them even making more than double what others did. One of such films is Jade Osiberu’s ‘Brotherhood’, which was released on September 23rd, 2022 in Nigerian cinemas. It grossed over N165 million in less than one month since its release and It has grossed N328, 881,120 in the 14th week of its release. Brotherhood was the number 1 Nollywood film at the box office for 10 consecutive weeks.
Also, Femi Adebayo’s ‘King of Thieves’, which was released on April 8, 2022 in Nigerian cinemas grossed about N317, 792,250. After its successful run at the box office, Prime Video acquired the rights to stream it on its platform.
Streaming platforms like Netflix and Prime video have made watching movies in our comfort zones possible. Quite a number of Nollywood movies had excellent ratings in 2022. One of it is Anikulapo, a Netflix original movie produced by Kunle Afolayan. This Non-English film was released on 30th September, 2022, it was watched for 8.7 million hours within 11 days of its release and was ranked number 1 globally on Netflix. It grossed N12,599,900 in two weeks at the cinemas.
Another Netflix original movie which was released on 28th October, 2022 is Mo Abudu’s ‘Elesin Oba: The King’s Horseman’ The film is an adaptation of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s “Death and the King’s Horseman”. It was ranked Number 1 amongst the top 10 movies in Nigeria within 24 hours of launch. It grossed N4,971,800 within a week of hitting the cinemas.
Other top Nollywood movies released in 2022 include: Mo Abudu’s “Blood sisters”. A 4-part exhilarating series, it ranked number 1 in Nigeria within 24 hours of its launch on Netflix and 11, 070,000 hours of viewing within the first week. Another original Netflix movie is Bolanle Austen-Peters’ “Man of God”. 24 hours after its releaser, it topped the charts in Nigeria and also one of the top ten movies in U.S and Canada.
Far from Home produced by Inkblot productions and written by Dami Elebe is another top Netflix series which ranked Number 1 within 24 hours of its release. Also, Passport produced by Vincent Okonkwo made N86,207,925 within 9 weeks of its release and is one of the top Nollywood movies in 2022.
In addition, Nollywood is wrapping up the year on a good note with its high grossing movies currently showing in the cinemas. One of it is Funke Akindele’s ‘Battle on Buka Street’ which was released on 16th December, 2022. This movie has grossed over N360 million within three weeks of its release, this is the highest grossing title for the weekend in the west African territory and highest one day grossing for a Nollywood film with N41 million.
Another movie currently doing well in the cinemas is Ijakumo (The Born Again Stripper) produced by Toyin Abraham Ajeyemi. This movie was released in cinemas nationwide on 23rd December, 2022 and it grossed over N87 million in just seven days of its release, this is the biggest opening week for a Nollywood film in 2022. It has grossed N136 million in 11 days of its release, making it the 4th highest Nollywood movie of the year 2022.
According to Stears Business, Nigeria’s music industry is the second best-performing entertainment and media consumer market in the world. The study conducted by Statista in Nigeria revealed that the music sector’s revenue grew from 26 million dollars in 2014 to 34 million dollars in 2018. This figure, as projected by Statista is expected to grow to 44 million dollars in 2023.
In 2022, Nigerian artistes outdid themselves which gave them a global recognition. A lot of Nigerian songs received a great number of views across streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Boomplay and Audiomack.
According to Dataleum, the top 10 most viewed Nigerian music videos on YouTube released in 2022 include: Rema’s “Calm down” with 299 million views, Burma boy’s “Last last” with 140 million views, Kizz Daniel’s “Buga” with 107 million views, For my hand by Burna boy ft Ed Sheeran with 70 million views, Finesse by Pheelz ft BNXN with 61 million views, Rush by Ayra Starr with 53.1 million views, No wahala (remix) by 1da Banton ft Kizz Daniel & Tiwa Savage witth 53 million views, Bandana by Fireboy ft Asake with 44 million views, Overloading by Mavin All Stars with 44 million views and Sungba (remix) by Asake ft Burna boy with 35 million views.
The most streamed Nigerian artiste of the year is Burna boy with three billion streams on Spotify. His 2022 album, “Love Damini” was the number 1 Nigerian album on Apple Music in 2022. Also, the album surpassed 350 million streams on Spotify, making it the highest-streamed African album of 2022. The Grammy Award winner recently broke records as he became the first artiste to garner over 600 million views on Boomplay.
In addition to this, his 2022 lbum “Love Damini” is the fastest growing project, amassing 300 million streams within four months of its release, thereby becoming the first project to collate such numbers on Boomplay. Career wise, It was a successful year for Burna boy as he bagged two awards at the Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards which was held on 30th November, 2022. The two awards he received were for the “Best African Music Act, 2022” and “Best International Act, 2022” respectively.
According to TurnTable Charts, in 2022 Asake had the greatest breakout year Nigeria has ever seen. After dominating 2022 with his hit releases, Asake crowned it with his record-breaking debut album “Mr Money with the Vibe”. This album was the number one album 12 weeks consecutively after its release racking up over 292 million streams across streaming platforms.
It also peaked at number one in 26 countries on Apple Music album chart, held 2nd position on billboard world album chart and the first album to have all its tracks occupy the first 12 spots on Apple Music Nigeria Top 100.
To cap the year, The YBNL signee won the “Artist of the year” award at African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA), he won the “Breakout Artiste of the year” award at NET honours Class of 2022 and he got his first international award nomination at the MOBO awards 2022 in the Best African Music Act Category. Music Streaming Platform, Audiomack announced Asake as its artist of the year due to the success of his debut album which has become the highest-charting album by a Nigerian artiste on Audiomack which received over 330 million streams on the platform.
Year 2022 was undoubtedly the year of significant wins for the Nigerian Music Industry. One of the major wins is that Six Nigerian artistes featured in the Blank Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. Tems with “No woman, no cry”, Fireboy DML with “Coming back for you”, Burna boy sang “Alone”, CKay sang “Anya Mmiri”, Bloody Civilian and Rema stirred us with “Wake up”, lastly Rema thrilled us with “Pantera”
In addition, Wizkid and Burna boy sold out the Madison Square Garden with 20,789 capacity. This was another win for the Nigerian music industry in 2022. Coupled with this is Davido being on the Qatar 2022 World Cup Official Anthem and he also performed at the World Cup final.
Also, in June 2022, Tems won two awards at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards after receiving 3 nominations which were the Best Collaboration with Justin Bieber and Wizkid, Best International Act and Best New Artist. She won the “Best Collaboration and Best International Act” categories.
Some top Nigerian songs which captivated the music lovers in 2022 include: Buga by Kizz Daniel ft Tekno which became the first song to hit 100 million streams on Boomplay, it hit its first million within 24 hours after its release, it set a new record for the biggest streaming week ever, raking in 11.4 million streams in a week and 47.5 million radio streams debuting at Number 2 on radio. The song enjoyed domestic and international acceptance making it the most shazamed song worldwide and the most googled song in Nigeria.
Buga kept Kizz Daniel on Spotify’s top artiste chart for 13 consecutive weeks after its release. In the recently announced All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) 2022 nominations list, Kizz Daniel gained 5 nominations for his effort in “Buga” including Best Male Artiste in Western Africa, Song of the Year, Artiste of the Year, Best African Collaboration, and Best Artiste, Duo or Group in African Pop.
Another top Nigerian song is Burna Boy’s Last Last, a sample of Toni Braxton’s 2000 single “He wasn’t man enough”. It is the most streamed African song on Spotify with over 145 million streams and among the top 100 songs on Apple Music globally in 2022.
Other top Nigerian songs in 2022 are: Overloading by Mavin All Stars, Asake’s Terminator, Joha, Peace be unto you, Palazzo by Asake ft DJ Spinall, Bandana by Asake ft Fireboy DML, Oxlade’s Ku Lo Sa and Crayon’s Ijo Laba Laba.
Despite the challenges faced by entertainment industry, ranging from Financing, Taxation, Distribution and Marketing Channels, Copyrights infringements and Piracy, it achieved significant growth in 2022 and is the fastest growing industry in the world. The Nigerian entertainment industry still holds the second largest market globally as no stone was left unturned in the year 2022.
By: Jacob Obinna & Nancy Briggs
Nigeria’s Box Office Generates N278m In February
The Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) on Tuesday said it realised N278 million as ticket sales across cinemas in the month of February, nationwide.
CEAN’s National Chairman, Mr Ope Ajayi, who, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, added that the cinemas also had 122,295 gross admission within the period under review.
Cinemas experienced a drastic decline in sales in February when compared with N819 million sales made in January.
Ajayi blamed the cash crunch and poor network service delivery being experienced by POS operators nationwide for the decline in sales.
He similarly noted that cinemas experienced an all time lull in the week of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
He explained further that cinemas had limited content to exhibit in the month of February, as movie producers avoided releasing movies during the election period.
“A couple of reasons are responsible for the drop in sales. We lost a weekend of sales during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, Nigerians’ attention was focused on voting across the country.
“Cash crunch and POS failures, affecting trading generally is also affecting the cinemas.
“Many movie producers and distributors avoided releasing movies during the election period. So, content was also somewhat limited,” he said.
Ajayi said the top films exhibited in cinemas across the country in February were “Antman” and “Love in a Pandemic”.
He listed films to watch out for in the month of March as : “Creed III”, “What Love Got To Do With It”, “Shazam Fury of the gods”, “John Wick iv”, “Different Strokes” and “Dungeons and Dragons83”.
Nollywood Actress Urges Ladies To Desist From Dating Married Men
Nollywood actress, Halima Abubakar, has urged ladies to desist from dating married men, saying leaving a quality life of being responsible with good moral virtues is the best life.
The renowned movie star, who took to her Instagram page to give the advice, said that ladies should not make the same mistake she made by dating someone else’s husband.
According to her, being a side chick to married men is morally wrong, but staying away from people’s husband’s is a moral upright living.
She stressed that she did not want them to experience what she went through, therefore, relationship with married men should be avoided.
She expressed gratitude to fans and well wishers, for their constant prayers, love and encouragement, adding that they should live a life they would be proud of.
The actress added that having a side business was far better than being a side chick, and urged them to leave people’s husbands alone.
“Live a life you would be proud of.
“Thank you all for all the prayers and encouragement and love .
“I am on a new parth to a new life; strive to be new and stay safe and morally upright.
“No do side chick o…see u soon. Find a side business and leave people’s husband.
“ Don’t make the mistake I made…The idea is to be morally right, “ she wrote.
Abubakar is a model, actress, television personality, philanthropist and multiple award-winning member of the Nollywood industry.
She rose to fame after the release of her debut film ‘Sabotage’ In 2011. She won the Afro Hollywood Best Actress prize.
The actress started auditioning for movie roles in 2001. After some time, she was given her first acting gig, a small part in the movie ‘Rejected’
It was, however, a small role that enabled her to land her first important role and ultimately her breakthrough in the movie ‘Gangster Paradise.’
The movie star has acted in more than a 100 movies. some of which are: ‘Slip of Fate’, ‘Tears of a Child’, ‘Secret Shadows’, ‘Gangster Paradise’, ‘Area Mama’, ‘Men in Love’, ‘Love Castle’, ‘Okafor’s Law’, among others.
She is also a movie producer and runs Morehouse Entertainment, a label and talent management business in the music industry.
The Kano-born actress established the Halima Abubakar Foundation, an NGO that aids the poor.
The actress has contributed immensely to the growth and development of the entertainment industry, thereby making her outstanding.
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