There is no doubt that the Nigerian movie market has expanded beyond what it used to be, growing from mere sales of DVDs and movie shows to movie premieres and cinema releases. This success can be attributed to an appreciable growth in the cinematic culture of its people, according to Box Office statistics by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria.
Though the Nigerian cinema would still be regarded as a growing child, its current status wasn’t conferred overnight. The Nigerian cinema dates as far back as the 19th and 20th century when cinema chains and theatre travel groups were birthed in the country. The Nigerian cinema of the 19th century, which was the British colonial era, boasted of about 11cinemas and 44 viewing screens at the beginning, and later grew to over 300 viewing centers and 1500 screens across the country. Sadly, these cinemas showed only American and Asian movies. The 20th century revolutionized the cinematic culture and movie industry in totality, as Nigerians began to tell their own stories. This development, however, did not last for a long time, as inadequate funding and lack of standard film studios became a hitch.
The coming of television and home video sets into the country did not help matters; it occasioned further suffering for the cinema, as low budget home videos became the order of the day. At this point, cinema culture in Nigeria almost went into extinction. In 2004, however, Silverbird Cinemas came with a new feel to the cinema. But then, it fast became a viewing place for movie lovers to catch up on foreign movies. Only a few Nigerian movies struggled to get some attention to the cinema halls. With the passage of time, between 2006 and 2013 to be precise, Nigerian movies like “Half of a Yellow Sun”, “Return of Jenifa”, “Last Flight to Abuja”, “Dazzling Mirage”, “Phone Swap” and “Mirror Boy” started getting considerable attention. They did not only pave the way but also recorded good numbers at the box office, establishing the cinema as a great distribution platform for good Nollywood movies.
From 2014 till date, there has been a dramatic increase in the success of Nigerian movies at the cinemas around the country and online. Cinema releases, however, takes precedence over online sales, making it the primary distribution platform for many Nigerian movies at the moment. It is on record that movies like “Wedding Party 1 &2”, “A Trip to Jamaica”, “Chief Daddy”, “Merry Men”, “King of Boys”, “10 Days In Suncity” have made a domestic gross income ranging from N94, 000, 000 to N500, 000, 000 each. The Success of these movies has set the ball rolling for other Nigerian movie makers to up their game, that is if they want to be relevant. This means better scripts and higher production/post-production costs for movie makers. In all this, though, piracy continues to be a plague most movie makers would detest, as they keep recording losses in the hands of pirates.
The boom in cinema distribution could mean that movie makers are doing something right. It could be that they now tell their stories in a more compelling way. Or that better equipment is now in use for these movie productions.
Perhaps, it could also be that the actors are getting better skilled at their craft. Whatever the triggers of these market surge may be, it definitely means that the juice in the current movie market is now for those who have something real and remarkable to bring to the table.