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Is Nollywood losing the cinema market to Netflix?

With the growing culture of streaming among Nigerian film fans and filmmakers, streaming giants like Netflix appear to be taking over the Nigerian film industry in terms of distribution, especially among the younger demographic.

Netflix adopted the slogan “Nollywood is Home” when it launched in Nigeria, and while it may seem like this is a brand looking to appeal to the local market, the platform and similar platforms are rapidly changing the way that Films to be distributed in Nigeria.

83 percent of the 1,000 Inside Nollywood respondents say they prefer to wait for movies to be available on streaming services because most movies would get there anyway. Also, they claim that they prefer tickets to Hollywood movies with higher production values.

Young Nollywood filmmakers, with the promise of a global audience as a greater incentive, are releasing their films on streaming platforms rather than taking the rigorous route of lobbying for their films to hit the big screen.

We’ve also seen streaming platforms looking to enter the Nigerian market through partnerships with local studios, such as Netflix’s partnership with Kunle Afolayan and Mo Abudu’s Ebony Life Studios, and Amazon Prime Video’s partnership with Niyi’s Anthills Studios Akinmolayan.

Short Story

For many years the Nigerian film business relied on home video distribution, plagued by piracy problems and attracting less than 5 percent of the cinema audience. It wasn’t until filmmakers like Kunle Afolayan brought back films that deserved to hit the big screen to Nollywood audiences, starting with his 2014 crime thriller October 1st.

Other films such as Ayo Makun’s 30 Days in Atlanta (2014), its sequel A Trip to Jamaica (2016) and Kemi Adetiba’s The Wedding Party (2016) followed suit, ushering in a new genre of Nigerian blockbuster paved filmmakers the way to confidently bring more films to the cinemas. From 2014 to 2019, the process became simple, from producing the films to nationwide distribution to intensive marketing.

Due to the rapid expansion of the film industry, this formula created a demand for accurate tracking of box office earnings that began in 2018. King of Boys (2018, N231.7 million), Chief Daddy (2018, N387.5 million), Merry Men 2 (2019, N233.9 million), Sugar Rush (2019, N287 million) and Living in Bondage-breaking Free (2018, N168.8 million) are some examples of previous blockbusters that have done well financially.

At the start of 2020, weekend sales for the first quarter of this year were recorded at N888 million, the highest first quarter profit in four years, and just as filmmakers were beginning to set new box office highs, the Covid-19 pandemic that forced a global lockdown and led to streaming.

Also Read: Netflix Secures Third Partner to Scale Original African Content

Lockdown and the dawn of streamers

Netflix launched in February 2020 to the delight of movie fans who couldn’t wait to feel their personal spaces with DVD discs and instead watch an entire season of their favorite movie or series just by tapping the play button Plan of N2900 monthly.

The pandemic has brought uncertainty and Nigerian audiences have been forced to stay at home as the cinema business slumped significantly, much like the global economy. With no one knowing for sure when things would get back to normal, switching to a streaming service or releasing movies in theaters a few months later and selling the rights to the streaming services seemed like a wise business decision.

Towards the end of the last quarter of 2020, cinemas opened with strict Covid restrictions, such as B. an occupancy rate of 60 percent, which meant that films released during this period struggled financially. However, the pandemic-induced fatigue and longing of film fans to return to their film routines in full force ensured theaters were packed for the 2021 release of Funke Akindele’s Omo Ghetto: The Saga, which grossed over N636 million, making it the highest-grossing Nollywood -Movie of everyone was about time.

The cinema business in 2021 appeared to be recovering from the pandemic woes as total weekend cinema ticket sales for the year rose 100 per cent to N2.4 billion from N1.2 billion in 2020, with Nollywood titles up 39.3 per cent of the tickets sold that year.

Fast-forward to 2022, two years after lockdown, data has shown that cinema admissions have returned to pre-pandemic levels, but people are choosing Hollywood titles more than local content.

Nollywood’s in-theater market share reportedly fell to 25.8 percent in the first half of 2022, although admissions remained at their typical levels for the same period in 2021.

Hollywood films benefited from the slight increase in ticket sales, leaving Nollywood films competing for an even smaller share of box office admissions. Despite the steady increase in cinema admissions over the past five years, the decline in 2022 is a record low.

From more than 1,491,000 tickets sold, Nollywood secured 964,523 in the first half of 2021. In contrast, it sold just 520,656 of the more than 1,498,000 tickets sold in the first half of 2022, down 46 percent year-on-year.

In its third week of release in January 2022, Spiderman: No Way Home, the top-grossing film at the local box office, continued to compete with other Nollywood productions for viewers’ attention as it was still the most popular film of the period. “Superstar”, “Aki & PawPaw” and “Christmas in Miami” were some of the films.

While new films struggled to find a niche in which to succeed, theaters continued to screen leftover Christmas films for the first eight weeks of the year to snag whatever cash they could offer.

By March, “Before Valentine”, “Dinner at my Place” and “A Simple Lie” were the only Nollywood films to gross slightly over at N11.6 million, N17.6 million and N15.2 million in its opening week cut off the average.

As Nollywood’s market share declines, what is the role of streaming services in the story, as the answer lies in how audiences prioritize the content they pay for and consume.

A study by Inside Nollywood shows that audiences first opt ​​for free material, then premium paid services when free content isn’t available, and finally streaming services like Netflix that allow for password sharing and as a fresh touchstone serve for pop culture for the younger generation.

Audiences are increasingly relying on streaming services to watch Nollywood movies as filmmakers follow the new pattern of releasing their cinema before putting it on streaming services. Over the long term, this strategy could pose an obstacle for the film industry, even as filmmakers and stakeholders strive for better returns.

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