Nigeria forayed into the colorful and delicate realms of celluloid twenty years ago. However, Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, garnered international attention only recently, when it surpassed the movie industry of the United States, Hollywood, to move to the second position in terms of volumes, across the globe. This is a huge feat given the film industry in Nigeria is fraught with infrastructural and financial challenges.
Nollywood churns out almost 40 movies a week that too shot on video cameras without any proper sets or studios! On an average, Nollywood is reported to release around 1000-2000 new productions annually, and in the year 2013, Nollywood released around 2000 new movies at an average of 200 new productions per month.
Estimated value of Nollywood was N94.4 billion in 2013 compared to the Indian film industry, Bollywood, which was valued at around N800 billion and Hollywood was valued at N1.6 trillion. According to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), budgets of Nigerian films are as low as N4.0 million – N11.2 million. Both Bollywood and Hollywood generate their co4re revenue from theaters in contrast to Nollywood, which generates major chunk of its revenue from DVD rentals.
Nigerian movies deal with the moral dilemmas facing modern Africans. Some movies Islamic faiths, and some movies are overtly evangelical. Others, however, address questions of religious diversity, such as the popular film One God One Nation, about a Muslim man and a Christian woman who want to marry and go through many obstacles. Nollywood has been criticized for making lots of films on the themes of voodoo and black magic.
Nollywood’s actors are one of the lowest paid actors in the world. It has been reported that sometimes a novice actor is paid just N11,200 per movie! Nollywood is severely criticized for paying poor fees to its actors and actresses, with the most popular actors being paid between N160,000 – N480,000 per film. However, actress, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, one of Nollywood’s highest paid performers recently topped the charts for being paid N5.0 million per film. In contrast, Bollywood’s most popular actors draw a remuneration between N800 million and N1.1 billion per film.
Actors such as Genevieve Nnaji are prominent personalities, and generally appear in the films with larger budgets. Genevieve’s national stardom is such that multinational consumer goods company, Unilever, made her the face of its popular body soap brand, Lux, and Range Rover selected her as a celebrity endorser.
Lack of corporatization is reflected in the practically non-existent film sets and film studios. The trend is changing, with establishment of distribution companies like Iroko Partners, which raked in around N1.3 billion last year. However, the fact that corporatization has remained restricted to distribution of films is perturbing for the industry, at large.
Corporatization is the future
It is due to corporatization of film industry that an average Bollywood flick now costs around N240 million ($1.5 million) and an average Hollywood film costs around N7.6 billion ($47.7 million). Producers of Indian films have adopted the studio model with a focus on “breaking even” even before the release of a film.
Production houses have adopted a twofold approach for recovering money; one being pre-licensing deals which ensure that 40 per cent – 80 per cent of the cost of a film is recovered even before it is released. The other being selling music rights, internet rights and digital rights of films, which help in recovering 10 per cent – 15 per cent cost of film.
This multi-pronged approach mitigates the risk borne by production houses of incurring losses if a film fails to strike a chord with the audiences.
Moreover, if a corporate model of producing films is in place then even banks would not hesitate to lend money to such companies for production of films. Finally, corporatization of film industry shall lead to injection of much needed funds, creating more jobs for people and thereby helping the entertainment industry in positively contributing to the economy.
By: Ruchi Gupta