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Why big budget films fail to recoup huge investment!

– Ace film-makers chart the way forward for industry

Nigeria’s motion picture industry, Nollywood is fast growing! It is becoming commonplace for the budget of movies to run into tens of millions of naira.

The question, however, is why do the movies not recoup the huge investments and what’s the way forward?

ENCOMIUM Weekly had a chat with some of Nollywood’s finest producers and they shared their insight…


Mildred Okwo, producer

The Meeting producer was honest in her assessment.

Her words, “We don’t have up to 25 open cinemas in Nigeria, so to recoup big investments is a big task. Until we have cinemas all over as we used to have village squares in the past, we can’t think of recouping that kind of money. Our cinema going culture is still growing. For instance, to make a N100m, you’ll need almost 120,000 insertions, where do you get that? A movie like Half of Yellow Sun with its huge budget, I doubt they meant to recoup that kind of money here in Nigeria.”

On the way forward, “The first thing is to make better films, that is movies that appeal to the target market. Know and understand what the people want. Second, film-makers need to understand that Nigerian rich people have low self esteem and are more interested in American films. They are not the ones interested in Nigerian movies. The people you should be dragging to the cinemas are the ones who want to see your movies and unfortunately, those people don’t have cinemas around them. Things are changing, though. Now we have cinemas in Festac, Surulere, Ikeja. When The Meeting came out, we made so much money in Ikeja.

And then we need better promotion for our movies. You can’t make a movie with millions and expect to promote it with paltry amount for promotion. And not just any promotion, but proper targeted promotion that’ll get people to go see it. Mo’ Abudu has been able to do that with her film and she has been able to get certain kind of people to see her movie. You can’t be on Twitter complaining that people don’t see your movie when you don’t promote it.


Fidelis Duker, producer

“First, we’ll need to look at the economic condition of the nation at this time and in the last couple of years. People will consider other social problems that are more pressing before movies, such as feeding, shelter, accommodation, health  and other basic needs. All these come first before you even think of entertainment. It’s only when you have eaten well in your house that you can think of going to see movies at the cinema.

Then, we consider infrastructure. Is the industry well funded? How many cinemas do we have in Nigeria. On the whole, we have about 50-60 screens, not cinemas, and are not 100 percent dedicated to Nigerian movies. We don’t have enough cinemas, and the first port of call for a movie is the cinema, then DVD and TV rights. Movies don’t get enough exposure in the cinemas and when they get on DVD, they are pirated. That’s why I advocate that you do a good film and forget about big budget. A good film is not based on big budget. You can spend N200 million and make a wishy-washy movie, or N1 million to make a good film that people will applaud.

We need to come up with innovative ways to make films and recoup our investment. Most producers don’t even break even.

Another thing I’ve noticed is showmanship. People make big-budget films just for the sake of bragging “I made a big-budget film”.

I think the AY style is a good model. He invested up to N80 million or N90 million. Invest in a good film with a good subject matter, and on a subject not too hard.


Emem Isong, producer

The ace producer feels that lack of cinemas across the country is a big factor.

Her words, “We don’t have enough screen cinema owners supportive enough of Nollywood. They’d rather give more attention to foreign movies. But you can’t really blame them as they have investors. They feel that if they promote Nollywood movies, they may not make as much as they would want.

They are not film-makers, so they do not have passion for it. They are businessmen, that’s what I think.

What can be done to better the situation?

Film-makers should take matters into their hands and get investors to set up more screens. Maybe setup things like community cinemas. I really don’t like getting into the business side of these things yet. We’re still cracking our brains to know what to do.


Chico Ejiro, producer

To the filmmaker, the lack of a proper distribution network is a big factor.

“We do not have proper distribution network. Also, we don’t have enough theatres, and the cinema audience we have in this part of the world is still growing. The problem of piracy also plays a role. All these ensure that you do not recoup your money when you shoot a big-budget movie. And you know investors who put their money into making a movie will want to make their money back, and they may not have so much patience.”

On what can be done to remedy the situation, “We have to make sure there are more theatres, better distribution, create awareness for people to go and see movies at the cinemas.”


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