×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Local Content Craze Fuels Box Office Boom in Nigeria

Powered by growing demand for local content and a rapidly expanding theatrical sector, Nigeria is expected to hit box-office highs in 2018, with the industry on track to shatter the record it set last year.

As Africa’s largest economy continues to rebound from recession, bizzers are bullish that steady gains in recent years will continue to push the industry toward new heights. “It’s looking really positive for the prospects for the industry,” said Moses Babatope, group executive director and COO of FilmOne Distribution.

Total B.O. is on track to top 5 billion naira ($13.8 million) for the first time in 2018—a 25% increase from last year’s record-setting haul. While the actual take is still a drop in the ocean by global standards, investors continue to pour money into new theaters, fueling hopes that Nigeria is only beginning to scratch the surface of its exhibition potential.

“The thing that we’ve suffered from the most is not having enough cinemas,” said Mo Abudu, whose EbonyLife Films has produced the two top-grossing Nigerian films of all time, “The Wedding Party” and “The Wedding Party 2.” “It’s great to see people investing more in the sector, because it’s the only way we’re going to grow.”

New players are entering the market, with 12 new theaters slated to open by the end of the year, almost increasing by half the total number of cinemas in Nigeria. That’s impressive year-on-year growth, to be sure, but it’s also a reflection of how far there is to go: by year’s end, just 40 cinemas will be servicing a country of 190 million plus, pointing toward a vast, untapped audience still waiting to be reached.

“If we have another 24 cinemas than we did last year, then it becomes much easier to break the box office,” said Abudu, whose EbonyLife will release its next feature, “Chief Daddy,” in time for the holiday season.

Expansion isn’t the only healthy sign for the local film biz. Earlier this year, industry professionals came together to launch the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association of Nigeria, a body that Babatope said will go a long way toward boosting the professional standards of an industry often criticized for lax bookkeeping. “For the first time, we were able to get all the cinemas together to see…the benefits of box office collation, data gathering, and how we can help investors see what is going on,” he said.

The association was instrumental in bringing comScore to Nigeria, which will help the country align with global norms in gathering and analyzing B.O. data. “Beyond the benefits of better decision-making and more transparency…I think that could really go a long way to create confidence in the system,” said Babatope. “That’s really major for the industry.”

Perhaps most encouraging is how Nigerian audiences continue to support local films. Gone are the days when Nigerian cinema was only defined by the low-budget, straight-to-DVD fare of its Nollywood industry; more than 80 local films will get a theatrical release this year, with gross B.O. expected to top 1 billion naira ($2.75 million) for the second year running.

That would have been unthinkable just five years ago, when local films took home just 5-10% of the total box office. Last year, that figure was closer to 40%. “To be at 40% in just a short space of time, with more and more cinemas being built, just tells you where the money is,” said Babatope. He added that it’s become “very compelling for studios to take a look at the local production market,” since Nigerians are “able to tell our stories in a cost-effective way.”

FilmOne is in discussions with a studio for a co-production slate deal that Babatope said “will change the landscape completely.” EbonyLife’s TV division has already inked deals with the likes of Disney and Sony Pictures Television, while Netflix’s most recent Nigerian acquisition, actress Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut, “Lionheart,” was its first Netflix Original in the country, and the latest sign that the streamer is determined to add more Nigerian content to its globe-spanning offerings.

International players are keen to take a seat at the table of the continent’s most dynamic entertainment biz, said Abudu. “There’s a new scramble for Africa, and we have stories that…global audiences will enjoy.”

More Film

  • (L to R) SAMUEL L. JACKSON,

    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • The Lego Movie 2

    'Lego Movie 2' Heading for $55 Million Opening Weekend

    Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is heading for an opening weekend of as much as $55 million at the North American box office on Feb. 8-10, early tracking showed Thursday. Chris Pratt is returning to voice Master Builder Emmet Brickowski along with new character Rex Dangervest. The unfailingly optimistic Emmet has [...]

  • Kevin Hart Monopoly

    Kevin Hart in Talks to Star in Monopoly Movie

    Kevin Hart is in talks to star in Lionsgate and Hasbro’s Monopoly live-action movie, which he will also produce through his HartBeat Productions label. Tim Story is in final negotiations to direct the film and also produce through his Story Company banner. HartBeat’s John Cheng will also produce and oversee the pic with Carli Haney. Story Company [...]

  • Playtime Unveils Three New French Comedies

    Playtime Dives Into Different Waves of French Comedy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Playtime, the Paris-based co-production and sales company which will be presenting Francois Ozon’s anticipated “By the Grace of God” in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, has acquired three offbeat French comedies: Geraldine Nakache’s “I’ll Go Where You Go,” “The Bare Necessity” with Fanny Ardant, and Valerie Donzelli’s “Our Lady of Paris.” “Our Lady of [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • The Pokémon Company Unveils Extensive Line

    The Pokémon Company Unveils Extensive Line of 'Detective Pikachu' Merch

    The Pokémon Company is putting out an extensive line of products for its first-ever live-action Pokémon movie, “Detective Pikachu,” it announced on Thursday. Among the new offerings are Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) booster packs, action figures, an interactive plush from Wicked Cool Toys, and an adorable deerstalker hat with Pikachu ears. All of the [...]

  • Other Angle Bows Raft of French

    Other Angle Bows Raft of French Comedies at UniFrance's Paris Rendez-Vous (EXCLUSIVE)

    Other Angle has picked up international sales rights to “A Good Doctor” with Michel Blanc, “Just The Three of Us” with Catherine Frot, and “The Father Figure” in the run-up to the UniFrance’s Rendez-Vous in Paris. Directed by Eric Besnard, “The Father Figure” is a supernatural comedy drama following a writer who mourns the death [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content