According to Lagos-based Business Day and NigeriaFilms.com, the Nollywood film industry grossed a total of N1.72 trillion in sales, in 2013 – or about $10.6 billion (I used a two different online currency converters, and they both gave me the exact same figure in US dollars).
In comparison, the US film industry has grossed $10.8 billion this year, with 2 days left to go until 2014 begins.
Of course, it’s not quite a 1-for-1 correlation. To start, US receipts are strictly for theatrical releases (not including DVD/Blu-ray/VOD, digital rentals and sales). Nollywood films are typically distributed heavily on disc, not in theaters, except for the occasional large scale, expensive (by Nollywood standards) production.
There are other factors, but, suffice it to say that there’s a reason why Nollywood is ranked as one of the tops in the world – at least, in terms of output. On average, over 2000 films are released by Nollywood filmmakers in Nigeria annually, compared to just over 650 in the USA (theatrically specifically. If you add all the straight to DVD/VOD releases, which likely outnumber the total released in theaters, the 650+ annual figure will balloon to who knows where).
But along with the impressive receipts, Nollywood also saw what we could call a continued push by some in the industry for higher production values, and that contentious “quality” word, to match global standards that will afford Nollywood films the opportunity to compete amongst the best, on the international cinema stage, where Nigerian films have long been noticeably absent, much to the chagrin of many a Nigerian filmmaker.
To assist in that regard, the country established a “Nigerian Intervention Fund” for the arts and entertainment industry, administered by NEXIM Bank. The money is part of the N200 billion (or about $1.2 billion) intervention fund set up by the Nigerian Federal Government to bail out the manufacturing sector from crisis.
Thus far, a reported 7 projects have received money from the fund, which some say is too low, given how much of a boost the Nigerian entertainment industry is said to need; and there’s apparently some confusion about what exactly the fund is, how Nigerian artists can access the money, and frustration over how complicated the application process seems to be.
And finally, of course, there’s the ongoing issue of rampant piracy, which has been plaguing the industry for 2 decades.
But prospects for Nigerian cinema in the next year, and after, are strong. There’s really no other way to go but up at this point.
2013 gave us standouts like Mildred Okwo’s The Meeting and Kenneth Gyang’s Confusion Na Wa. Looking ahead, I’m especially looking forward to upcoming work from veterans like Tunde Kelani (Dazzling Mirage) and Kunle Afolayan (October 1).
Read Business Day’s full report HERE.