It’s obvious that Nigerian movie industry is crumbling. And that its stakeholders now live largely from hand to mouth, having little or nothing to save from their earnings.
According to some industry stakeholders, the nefarious activities of some criminally-minded individuals called pirates are the major causal factors of the misfortune that has bedeviled the industry for quite long, leaving many practitioners financially incapacitated.
ENCOMIUM’S regular checks have revealed that some major and high budget movies are often pirated, leaving their producers and marketers bankrupt.
Months back, Kunle Afolayan’s October 1 was pirated. That ignited the anti-piracy protest by some major movie producers, directors and actors signaling an end to the heinous activities, but all ended futile as the rogues continued stealing other peoples’ intellectual property unchecked.
Meanwhile, the call has always gone to those in government, especially the lawmakers to lend their voice behind the struggle to curb the illegal activities being perpetrated through various means.
ENCOMIUM Weekly went round some parts of Lagos state and had a chat with some movie marketers and vendors on the ugly situation. They all agreed that piracy is the major menace that has wreaked havoc on the business. They therefore called on the present administration to urgently attend to the issue before the collapse of the industry.
Speaking with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, November 4, 2015, popular movie marketer and music promoter, Alhaji Sulaimon Olanrewaju of G3 Entertainment, Agege, Lagos said, “The entertainment industry’s major enemy is piracy. As a music and movie marketer of many years, I can tell you authoritatively that things are no longer at ease in the industry right now, especially in the movie sector. Most of us marketers and vendors are crying.
“In the past few years, things were better. But now, some of us can’t break-even let alone make any profit. For instance, at G3,we have reduced the percentage of the movies we sell by more than half because by the time most of them will be released to the market officially, most of their pirated copies have flooded the streets at cheaper prices than the prices of the original copies.
And we all know Nigerians’ mentality, they won’t even bother about the quality of the movie, but the price. So, that’s the greatest challenge we face as marketers and vendors. How will you now be encouraged further to invest hugely in such a business?
“Everything we do now is a risk because nobody is sure of any profit at the end of it all. We need the attention of the Federal Government to help fight piracy to a standstill.”
Corroborating Olanrewaju’s submission, CEO, Hakibel Ventures Limited, Ogba, Alhaji Hakeem Bello said his business as a movie and music vendor has collapsed due to piracy, adding that he is only living on the mercies of God.
“There is nothing in the industry now. Pirates have spoiled the whole thing for us. How do you expect movies to sell when people have already bought pirated copies? That’s even why some producers are no longer interested in churning out correct and high budget movie. No one will be happy seeing the fruits of his labour being reaped by some lazy but smart individuals.
“Also, the idea of watching movies on YouTube and other online platforms has worsened the situation. People have their various phones being used as mobile television set. At the click of whatever address they want, they start watching all the uploaded movies for free. So, piracy, to me, is not limited to all these VCDs or DVDs on the street. I think there should be proper monitoring of everything by both the stakeholders and the government to forestall all these fraudulent practices.
“Now, I am selling less than 30 per cent of what I used to sell when things were okay in the industry. I think the poor economy is also not helping matters.”
In his view, Benard Chukwu of Mighty Ben Productions said, “It’s obvious, things are no longer rosy in the movie industry. Piracy and poor economic situation in the country are killing the industry seriously. Everybody is even fed up. But because we don’t have another business, that’s why we’re still in it. But we hope, with collective efforts of all of us in the industry and the government, the industry will gain back its lost glory.”
According to Saidi Balogun, a notable actor and producer, “How do you expect the movies to sell when people have already bought the pirated copies ahead of the official release date? If you are the marketer of such a movie, how would you feel. Very pathetic!
“And the battle is difficult to fight and win just like that. The government has to sit up and back our struggle with a very strong law that will recommend stringent penalty for whoever is caught in the act of stealing other person’s intellectual property. It should be made a very serious crime. If not, whatever effort we may be making on our end won’t yield the desired result.
“Also, the level of poverty in the country has contributed a lot to why movies are no longer selling. Can anybody who has not eaten three square meals in a day think of buying movies? Some don’t even think of that for now. And if they feel disturbed by their children, they will just opt for the cheaper ones, all these 4-in-1, 8-in-1 CDs which are of course the pirated copies. So, the people also must change their orientation and stop buying all these pirated movies.”
According to the chairman of Movie Marketers Association of Nigeria (MMAN) Yoruba sector, Alhaji Rasaq Abdullahi of Corporate Pictures fame, the advance of technology has done the industry more harm than good as far as piracy is concerned. And that has made the war against the menace a difficult.
“Technology is fast moving ahead of us in the industry. And that has really worked against our business. For instance, a movie that’s released on a Monday morning, you find its pirated copies all over the place before the close of the day. Then, the original will now be competing with the fake ones in the market. How do you now expect us to make any profit? That’s the real reason movies are no more selling. It’s really sad.
“We only need full government support in bringing the industry back to its original form. We can’t fight the battle alone.”