Nollywood Reaps Box Office Returns As It Shifts Focus From Movie Quantity To Quality
The emphasis on low-budget and high-volume production helped Nollywood movies become widely popular at home and all over Africa, but it fostered low standards.
However, the past decade has brought a new generation of filmmakers who have shifted the focus from quantity to quality—a move that has enabled Nollywood movies to become a leading attraction for audiences at local cinemas increasingly.
The popularity of Nollywood movies at local cinemas was evident during the December period when moviegoers were spoiled for choice with some Hollywood releases also available.
Nollywood’s film 'Chief Daddy' was the festive season’s second highest grossing movie (behind Warner Bros’ Aquaman) according to a report from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association of Nigeria. The report states that during the New Year holiday week Nollywood had three of the top five highest earning movies at Nigeria’s cinemas.
Nigerian Film Director, Tope Oshin said that the most significant change was that more production companies were increasing their budgets and scale. He said that the previous low budgets caused production houses to sacrifice on quality. Oshin added that because of Nollywood’s recent success, filmmakers could now spend even more now that they can see that the audience responds well to quality.
Investing more in higher production values, better-trained crew and upgraded equipment has become crucial now that global partners like Amazon Prime and Netflix are wanting to get more involved in producing local content.
On the other hand, the long-term success of licensing agreements with VOD platforms like iROKOtv and Netflix (the global streaming giant commissioned its first original Nollywood film last year) will depend mainly on solving connectivity and internet access problems.
An indie Film Director, Imoh Umoren said that in addition to the increased production budgets, Nollywood’s recent success at cinemas could also be attributed to better marketing and promotion.
However, Umoren felt that the next step would be for the industry to move away from making “safe” movies and to widen their genres to more than just drama and comedy.