Nollywood: Nigeria’s $800 Million Movie Industry, No 2 In The World

Nollywood grew quickly in the 1990s and 2000s and became the second largest film industry in the world in number of annual film productions, placing it ahead of the United States and behind only India. In 2013, it was rated as the third most valuable film industry in the world after generating a total revenue of NG₦1.72 trillion (US$10 billion) in 2013 alone, placing it behind India and the United States.

The Nigerian film industry is worth NG₦853.9 billion (US$5.1 billion) as at 2014 and produces hundreds of home videos and films per annum. Nigerian cinema is Africa’s largest movie industry in terms of value and the number of movies produced per year. Although Nigerian films have been produced since the 1960s, the rise of affordable digital filming and editing technologies has stimulated the country’s film and video industry.

Nigeria’s movie industry (which started as Home video market) a.k.a Nollywood has been typically accepted to have started – immediately following the success of Kenneth Nnebue’s “Living in Bondage”, an Igbo-language movie in 1992 starring Kenneth Okonkwo. Men like Kenneth Okonkwo, Kanayo O Kanayo and Bod-Manuel Udokwu are the Nigerian version of die hard actors, they made the first impression of what a film looks like, they starred alongside other selected Igbo casts in the earliest of Nigerian home video (Living in Bondage) produced when films were shot with VHS cameras and edited in television studios using a couple of (gone extinct) VCR machines. Other merchants, overwhelmingly members of Nnebue’s ethnic group, the Igbo, followed him into business. They literally made things up as they went, shooting movies in just a few days, based on vague scenarios instead of scripts. Directors approximated tracking shots by pushing their cameramen around in wheelchairs. Quality was shaky, but the buying public didn’t care. Between 1994 and 2005, production in Nigeria went from a handful of feature movies a year to more than 2,500.

“We watch these Africa films like ‘Blood Diamond’ and ‘The Last King of Scotland’ — they’re always from the perspective of the Europeans,” says Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, who has directed more than 160 features. He was the subject of a documentary called “Nollywood Babylon,” which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, and he told me that when he went to the festival, he was shocked to discover that some American directors had been working for years to make just one movie.

Kenneth Nnebue quit Nollywood a few years ago, retiring to his village to devote his life to preaching the Bible. But the industry he established remains tightly controlled by the same group of Igbo businessmen, an insular guild sometimes called the Alaba cartel.

Kenneth Nnebue.

Several other that participated in the making of Nollywood (behind the scene) includes Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugbomah, late Hurbert Ogunde, Adeyemi Afolayan a.k.a Ade Love (Kunle Afolayan’s father), Ladi Ladebo, Moses Adejumo, Adebayo Salami and Afolabi Adesanya.

Herbert Ogunde

These men “The Yoruba Travelling Theatre Groups” took their works beyond the stage and delved into movie production using the Celluloid format as far back as 1970, they were actually the first Nigerian film makers, although “the Yoruba traveling theater group” pioneered the earliest movies in Nigeria, Kenneth Nnebue was the first to spearhead the production of a movie in Nigeria – Living in bondage which actually gave life to movie production in Nigeria. These great men made movies like KONGI’S HARVEST in 1971, BULL FROG IN THE SUN in 1974, BISI DAUGHTER OF THE RIVER in 1977, JAIYESIMI in 1980, CRY FREEDOM in 1981 and many other great movies in the seventies and eighties. The early nineties of course brought LIVING IN BONDAGE, AHANNA, BLOOD MONEY, NNEKA THE PRETTY SERPENT, CIRCLE OF DOOM and GLAMOUR GIRLS; all of these Nigerian movies were funded and produced by Kenneth Nnebue – now addressed as Evangelist Kenneth Nnebue.

From then on its expansion and attendant complications are well known by fascinated audience. However, many events preceding 1992 were not popular even though a few have tried to trace the history of Nollywood. Here is an abridged edition (yet richly enlightening) from one of several articles published concerning this topic matter.

Film exhibition began to thrive for the duration of the Colonial era, with Glover Memorial Hall playing host to a array of unforgettable films viewed by “potential Nigerians”, in August 1903. However, the non-availability of proper data reflecting the title of the debut movie exhibited has created a lapse in the precedent stock. Notwithstanding the lacuna, the way have been paved for that exhibition of additional foreign films at the Hall at identical time as other designated venues.

One of the first Nigerian movies to reach international renown was the 2003 release Osuofia in London, starring Nkem Owoh, the Nigerian comedic actor.

First Nollywood films were produced using celluloid while Nollywood straight-to-video productions were produced with traditional analog video, such as Betacam SP, but today almost all Nollywood movies are produced using digital cinematography technology. The Guardian has cited Nigeria’s film industry as the third largest in the world in earnings and estimated the industry to bring in US$250 million per year. In April 2014, Nigeria’s GDP rebasing was concluded and Nollywood was announced to be worth NG₦853.9 billion (US$5.1 billion) and Nigeria’s economy was announced as the largest in Africa.

Nollywood’s biggest competition in the Nigerian market is the Ghanaian film industry. However, many Ghanaian productions are copyrighted to Nollywood and distributed by Nigerian marketers due to Nigeria’s bigger market. Nigerian filmmakers usually feature Ghanaian actors in Nollywood movies as well and that has led to the popularity of Ghanaian actors almost like their Nigerian counterparts. Van Vicker, a popular Ghanaian actor, has starred in many Nigerian movies. As a result of these collaborations, Western viewers often confused Ghanaian movies with Nollywood and count their sales as one; however, they are two independent industries that sometimes share the colloquial “Nollywood”. In 2009, Unesco described Nollywood as being the second-biggest film industry in the world after Bollywood in output and called for greater support for second-largest employer in Nigeria. The Nigerian film industry is also colloquially known as Nollywood, having been derived as a play on Hollywood in the same manner as Bollywood from Bombay, India. The primary distribution centres for straight-to-video movies are Idumota Market on Lagos Island, 51 Iweka Road in Onitsha in Anambra State, and 1/3 Pound Road Aba in Abia State. Currently, Nigerian films outsell Hollywood films in Nigeria and many other African countries. Straight-to-video producers turn out movies at an astonishing rate in a year and new titles are delivered to Nigerian shops and market stalls every week, where an average video sells 50,000 copies. A hit may sell several hundred thousand. VCDs sell for one to two dollars each, making them affordable for most Nigerians and providing large returns for the producers.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/magazine/nollywood-movies.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1

Nigeria’s Movie Industry

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Nollywood’s biggest competition in the Nigerian market is the Ghanaian film industry. However, many Ghanaian productions are copyrighted to Nollywood and distributed by Nigerian marketers due to Nigeria’s bigger market. Nigerian filmmakers usually feature Ghanaian actors in Nollywood movies as well and that has led to the popularity of Ghanaian actors almost like their Nigerian counterparts eg Van Vicker. This is a leakage.

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Chichi Godwin:

Nollywood’s biggest competition in the Nigerian market is the Ghanaian film industry. However, many Ghanaian productions are copyrighted to Nollywood and distributed by Nigerian marketers due to Nigeria’s bigger market. Nigerian filmmakers usually feature Ghanaian actors in Nollywood movies as well and that has led to the popularity of Ghanaian actors almost like their Nigerian counterparts eg Van Vicker. This is a leakage.

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