Do you really know yourself, your worth or capacities, while you do hand sanitizing or washing hands, masking faces, maintaining safe distance, getting locked down or self-isolating? As long there are audiences yearning to watch movies remotely as a brand-new world takes-off, filmmakers cannot wash their hands-off filmmaking. Screenwriters are developing stories, producers are budgeting, cinematographers are also reviewing skills and crew members are yearning to work film sets.
These are all signs of unbeatable human yearning for stories; whether it’s about telling or enjoying them. That recognition of human curiosity is not for its sake, but to reexamine existence and plan survival. Indeed, by understanding social, cultural, political and economic conflicts and likely ways of resolving them. That’s why everyone loves the Hero/Heroin or Protagonist, who goes out to solve a problem caused by the scoundrel, villain character or Antagonist.
When tension is cleared and fear is taken for granted, movie audiences will crowd cinemas. Check out 3,000 people patronizing San Antonio Movie Chain in Texas, USA; first weekend in May. And Nigerian movie audiences were not left out since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, 2019. That N412 Million worth of gate takings was spent in February, in January 2020 is no news.
Compared to previous year, 2019, 35.25 percent increase from N267 million gate takings was recorded. This according to Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, CEAN was however a loss to Nollywood. CEAN statistics issued alongside National Film and Video Censorship Board (NFVCB) observed that gate takings in January 2019 stood at N443 million; a 40 percent drop. Indeed, a huge 60percent drop from peaked N680 Million million in December 2018.
These statistics represent weekend outings by cinema audiences collated by ComScore, Inc; but are deemed incomplete by CEAN and NFVC. Earlier predictions by Technext.ng made out the first seven days of February would record revenues under N70 million. Albeit 12 movies grossed above 1 million, while 3 made over 10 million made at N68.3 million, first week. But these were based on incomplete weekly statistics, because issues for second week were incomplete. Nonetheless, Technet believes N41.8 million revenue for this period is healthy. Really because it represents a standalone weekend gross taking. Now this figure represents the weekend grosses alone. Therefore, it figures a total full week estimate of about to N65 million.
Never to be underestimated though, Nollywood albeit followed foreign studios’ cinema issues. Between February 1-7, 2020 in 3rd with Chief Daddy, followed Disney and Times at first and second rankings. At 6th- 9th positions after Warner and UIP/Universal Fox, with Let Karma, Up North, Light in the Dark, Levi, Nollywood moved Bollywood to 10th position.
Fox, Times and Sony rode the revenue ranking in that order, while Nollywood productions No Budget and Chief Daddy found leverage at 8th and 9th positions between February 15 and 21, 2019 week. In the following week February 22- 28, 2019 No Budget, Mo Morisa and Maid and Chief Daddy stayed 9th,10th, 11th and 12th positions after UIP/Universal, Fox, Sony, Times and UIP/Universal again.
Between March 20-26, 2020 Nollywood movies: Mama Drama, Who is the Boss and Unroyal were ahead of movies Sony and Empire studios, USA. February 28, March 5, 2020 saw Nollywood topping with Who is the Boss, followed by a Sonny Pictures movie, Bad Boys for Life; while Sugar Rush and Dear Affy preceded Birds of Prey from Warner. February 14-16, 2020 recorded Sonny toping Nollywood with Bad Boys for Life, while the latter pulled in with Sugar Rush and Dear Affy at second and third places. There are constant revenue gains by foreign studios.
Though not absolute, the trend might well explain need for Nollywood to reflect some useful-to-audience movie entertainment needs. Really without ignoring Nollywood’s well-known position and not overlooking past and future cinema statistics. Nollywood cannot ignore venturing into film genres that will reflect an ensuing new world. Perhaps social media memes could inspire global themes with Nigerian habits. Who knows titles like Naija -Wuhan Connection, Invisible Enemy or Lonely Rooms, could develop concepts around COVID-19 pandemic?
How about post-pandemic themes in 2030? All and any title will be conceived, developed and funded based on strong basic story development elements. More than ever an average Nollywood writer should be able write saleable Loglines, Taglines, Synopsis and Treatments to attract foreign investments. And that will boost a competitive investment ecology.
Indeed, competition between online streaming and physical cinemas has been heightened by sheer digitization of platforms. In past one month or so, Nigerians have had to populate Netflix and Apple among others to stay entertained in their cocoons. It means without powerful digital access, many though preferring streamed movies at home will quickly jump on Hollywood, Bollywood or any other film culture.
Nollywood dares not lose steam worked in from the 1990s, thanks to Living in Bondage. More so more consultations should happen between producers, screenwriters and directors and specialists in science and technology. So, the gains of doing it right and doing it safe will be guaranteed.
Only then will screenwriter-producer-director teams endear their cinematographer. Then Nigeria will redefine her identity through Nollywood within the evolving world order. At FilmLab Nigeria we are conceiving, developing and talking to filmmaking professionals to understand that opening vista waiting for all us.
Join us live at www.filmlab/filmtalk every other week on Friday at 1800 Hours Lagos, Nigerian time.