Have you noticed that Nollywood movies seem to be enjoying a lot of exposure at the cinemas nowadays? This is not about the fact that Nigerian cinemas now show local films. That in itself is not a new development. It’s possible that if you moved to Nigeria in the last six months, you would think this was how things have always been. No. There was a time when it was a really big deal to screen Nollywood movies at the cinemas. There were all kinds of seemingly insurmountable hurdles. From issues of poor picture quality to movies being in the wrong format.Even when things began to change and local films were being screened, it wasn’t such a regular thing.
Even when things began to change and local films were being screened, it wasn’t such a regular thing.
Then, there were cinema lovers who were not always in favour of seeing Nollywood movies at the cinema. While some thought it wasn’t hip and wouldn’t be caught dead watching a Nigerian movie at the cinema, there were many who dismissed Nigerian movies outright. As I often discover, quite a few of the people who were dismissive hadn’t watched a Nollywood movie in recent times. For all you know, it could have been more than a decade ago! Yet, they would be the first to declare: ‘I don’t watch Nigerian movies.’
But things are now decidedly different. Whereas in the not so distant past, it was the odd Nollywood movie which made it to the cinemas. These days, on any given week, at the cinemas, there might be as many Nollywood movies as Hollywood movies being screened. A few weeks ago, when I first took real notice of this trend, there were some weeks which had more Nollywood movies on display than foreign ones.
The good news is that this attitude is changing. I know an Abuja-based professional woman of means who goes to the cinema to watch only Nigerian movies. You would never guess her preference.
When did things change? It’s difficult to pin the exact moment when things turned. Suffice to say however that with movies like: A Trip To Jamaica, Wives On Strike, The Wedding Party, 2016 was a landmark year of sorts. That actually continued into 2017. Just a few weeks ago, the cinemas were bursting with movies like Banana Island Ghost, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde was making a major comeback in Alter Ego.
Just before writing this, I took a quick look at the film schedules of some cinemas viz Silverbird and Genesis Cinemas. In Abuja, the three outlets are screening The Women(Blessing Egbe). Then each of the outlets is showing (a second) different Nollywood movie. While Silverbird (SEC) is screening Desmond Elliot’s The Silverspoon, Silverbird Jabi is showing Paul Igwe’s Dance to my Beat. Genesis, on the other hand, is showing James Abinibi’s Mentally.
A cursory look at the faces and names in these films tells its own story. There’s the fact that Desmond Elliot appears to now prefer Nollywood to his ‘new’ daytime job as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Kate Henshaw is stepping out on the big screen in The Women. She, like many actors, tried politics but was not as lucky as Desmond. And what can we say about Frank Donga in Mentally? Frank Donga, real name Kunle Idowu, is fast becoming a movie star. I also notice that Jennifer Eliogu is in The Silverspoon.
But I digress. The focus is still on how well Nollywood appears to be doing at the cinemas. This is obviously a welcome development. There are all kinds of implications if this subsists. All of those implications are positive because we are talking about the creation of jobs for Nigerians. Not to mention the trickle-down effects if the good fortunes are felt all the way down the value chain.
This Post first appeared in PUNCH