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Active Film Distribution Companies in Nigeria and the Vicious Circle of Movie Piracy

Active Film Distribution Companies in Nigeria and the Vicious Circle of Movie Piracy

Nigeria has a peculiar film industry.

The Nigerian film industry does not have a formal film market, but there is active film distribution in Africa’s largest film industry.

The Nigerian film industry which comprises of Nollywood and Kannywood is estimated to be worth more than US$ 590 million annually; producing over 2, 400 movies annually and employing more than 1, 000, 000 people every year. But there are no statistics to confirm these reports, because they are not facts.

I have published these reports in my NOLLYWOOD MIRROR® series, but the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) knows that the Nigerian film industry is still a guerrilla film industry in the African jungle and the claims of employing more than 1,000,000 people, making 2,400 movies and generating more than US$590,000,000 annually are not verified by any auditor.
 
If the Nigerian film industry is really booming, then why are many of the filmmakers and actors still poor and powerless? In fact, majority of them cannot pay their bills!

Many of them are no longer producing movies and have turned to political campaigners to make money for their survival and welfare. Several of them spent more time at political campaign rallies than on film locations in 2015. And none of them has even produced a documentary on the 2015 presidential campaigns like the thrilling “An African Election” by Jarreth Merz on the 2008 presidential elections in Ghana, http://anafricanelection.com/.

A documentary film on the melodramatic 2015 presidential election in Nigeria will be very interesting, like my new book “The Victory of Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Dream: My Testimony on the 2015 Presidential Election.”

Only few of the active practitioners in Nollywood and Kannywood are comfortable.

The filmmakers are the most important sector of the Nigerian film industry, because they are the producers of the movies and without them, there will be no film industry. Then after them, the second most important stakeholders are the film distributors; bringing and selling the movies to the consumers through the film exhibitors owing the cinemas, vendors of the DVDs and online exhibitors.

The biggest problem and threat to the film industry is movie piracy. 

Movie piracy is a global crime that started even before the emergence of the Nigerian film industry.

Piracy of movies has become worse with the development of new formats for film distribution using digital technologies like CDs, DVDs, VODs and online streaming platforms. And the pirates are not invisible, but they have become invincible. They have refused to stop their crimes all over the world. An wherever they cannot operate openly, they continue to flourish underground.

Movie piracy is worse in Nigeria, because the pirates operate with brazen impunity and are more powerful than both the filmmakers and film distributors. In fact, the filmmakers are afraid of the risks of confronting them. That is why the pirates are the biggest and largest distributors of movies in Nigeria with their vendors on every street and bus stop, and also on the internet. And they continue to thrive, because they offer more movies at cheaper prices to the consumers than the filmmakers and their distributors. They can package dozens of counterfeit movies and TV series in one single DVD for less than US$1, or N150, when the original movies are selling for more than US$200 for one title. 

Majority of the consumers in Nigeria are the best customers of the pirates and they include the loudest noisemakers in the churches and anti-corruption crusaders who condemn corruption in Nigeria, but are also guilty of being the largest market for piracy, the worst corruption in the entertainment industry, the second largest employer of workers in Nigeria.

There is no way you can talk about film distribution without talking about movie piracy. The tragedy of piracy in Nigeria is the fact that even the filmmakers, music producers, artistes, distributors, exhibitors and vendors are all consumers of pirated movies, music recordings or books online and offline. You will see the film producer cursing pirates of his or her movie, going around the corner of the street to buy pirated music tapes or download the songs online. The musician or singer whining about pirates selling his songs illegally will turn around to buy pirated movies or download them from unauthorized websites.

Bootlegging is also common in the Nigerian music industry. In fact, upcoming acts patronize the pirates to include their songs in pirated CDs and DVDs or mix-tapes to make them popular. Almost everyone has become entangled in the vicious circle of piracy. And this is the nightmare of every film distributor in every part of the world. 

We might as well negotiate with the pirates of movies and songs and reach a mutual agreement with them for the general distribution of our movies and songs.

Is my suggestion ludicrous? But, such an expedient resolution may be the solution for the elimination of piracy in the entertainment industry.

– “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. ~ Sun Tzu in “The Art of War”

– “The pirates have outnumbered the watchdogs. If you don’t believe that, ask the watchdogs. They’ve been toiling in vain to stem the onslaught of viewers flocking to free streaming websites in order to enjoy the latest episodes of “Game of Thrones”, “30 Rock” or “Dexter.”  The watchdogs can’t possibly keep up—they’re overrun like a hobbled survivors fleeing a horde of zombies on AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” ~ Karsten Strauss Forbes Staff A journalist covering entrepreneurs, technology & business http://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2013/03/06/tv-and-film-piracy-threatening-an-industry/

– “Almost 30% of Britons are now watching movies illegally online or buying counterfeit DVDs, costing the industry £500m a year ~ http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/jul/17/digital-piracy-film-online-counterfeit-dvds

Nigerian filmmakers need accountable and responsible film distributors who are honest and transparent and are not partners in crime with the pirates.

If you give your movie to a film distributor, then you should also make sure that the film distributor will be responsible for the safety of the movie from the film distribution office to the cinema or from the street to the internet.

Check out the track records of a film distributor before you give your movie to him or her.

Can the film distributor be trusted?

A good film distributor should also have good marketing and publicity for films and not a film distributor that does little or nothing to promote movies.
Publicity should be a multimedia strategy, including press releases, press conferences, radio and TV interviews and social media promotions.
If the publicity of a movie is not well done, the movie may flop at the cinemas. Mismanaged publicity plans have made many Nigerian movies to flop, because of inadequate budget and poor planning.
If a filmmaker does not have enough budget for the promotion of a movie, the film distributor should take up the responsibility, because the more movie goers your publicity attracts to the cinemas, the more money your movie will make and you will make more profit.

There is no successful film distribution without film promotion.

The highest grossing Nollywood movie so far, “30 Days in Atlanta” produced by popular comedian Ayo Makun and directed by Robert Peters succeeded, because of a good publicity plan by the filmmakers, film distributors and film exhibitors. That is why the romantic comedy made more money at the cinemas than the so called most expensive Nigerian movies “Half of a Yellow Sun” and “Doctor Bello”.

Poor PR and poor publicity made both films to flop. Even the hype of the celebrated Nollywood diva, Genevieve Nnaji as the Box Office Queen of “Half of a Yellow Sun” was ambiguous and erroneous, because the publicist failed to show what made her the “Box Office Queen” of Nollywood when most of her movies flopped at the cinemas. If you spend US$500, 000 for a movie starring the “Box Office Queen” and you made only half of your film production budget at the few cinemas in Nigeria, is that what makes her a “Box Office Queen”? And she did not even play a leading role in “Half of a Yellow Sun”. That was a wrong publicity strategy. 
The publicists did not even know how to use sound bites and they were actually confused. 
The film was also given to the wrong film distributor that did not have any proven success record for film promotion and has no publicity for one of the most expected films in 2014.
A Biafran war film that failed to attract even a quarter of the Igbos who were the worst victims of that war and then casting the most popular Igbo actress in Nollywood as a Yoruba woman when a sensational Funke Akindele or Queen of Nollywood, Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde would have made the cameo role of Genevieve Nnaji as “Ms Adebayo” more attractive to millions of Yorubas.
Then the leading Black British actors were too snobbish to grant interviews to the most popular film critics and bloggers in Nigeria, but they rushed to be interviewed by the foreign news media for their other Hollywood movies competing for the Oscars. But the filmmakers and film distributors could not use them to promote the film in Nigeria. Then, the hyenas of the film industry, the movie pirates pounced on it and worsened the nightmares of the filmmakers and confused film distributors.

Any film distributor that is reluctant to spend enough money for the publicity of your movie is not good enough for you.
You have to see that the film distributor has a functional department for marketing and publicity.

Silverbird Film Distribution has the best publicity for movies, because the company is owned by the biggest independent entertainment corporation in West Africa, the Silverbird Group with STV national and international TV network and Rhythm FM radio stations and the largest West African cinema chain, the Silverbird Cinemas with 69 screens so far.

Followed by Silverbird Film Distribution is Blue Pictures Film Distribution with the best film distribution website in Nigeria and has engaged the best PR and media agencies for marketing and publicity of movies. Blue Pictures recently engaged one of the foremost Nigerian social media news and information companies, IDPN Limited that is also promoting Apple, GTBank, Emirates, P&G and other big brands and known internationally by all the leading filmmakers, film distributors and studios in the world.

The other film distribution companies need to revamp their websites and engage world class PR and marketing agencies.

The first look at the website of any film distributor will show the efficiency ad proficiency of the management. A good film distribution website can make thousands of dollars from online advertising of products and services that will increase the annual revenue of the company. A good website can attract more than two million visitors weekly and that will certainly increase the mileage and patronage of the movies at the cinemas, because the constant publicity will increase the popularity of the filmmakers and the movies distributed by the company.

The following are the Active Film Distribution Companies in Nigeria.

Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima is Publisher/Editor of NOLLYWOOD MIRROR® series. Pick up a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/author/ekenyerengozimichaelchima

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