Nollywood: The Nigerian Film Industry

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Nollywood: The Nigerian Film Industry

December 4, 2014 Research 1

Nollywood, has made a huge name for itself and is currently the world’s second largest film industry, after Bollywood. It churns out an incredible rate of 50 low budget movies each week, and around 1500 a year. The movies can take as little as 10 days to complete, all going straight to DVD and video. Half of A Yellow Sun, Nigeria’s biggest movie production to date, had a budget of $10 million. 80% of the budget was funded by Nigerian investors, and acclaimed actors Chiwetel Ojiofor and Thandie Newton played leading roles. This mainstream movie is a far cry from Chris Obi Rapu’s 1992 film, Living in Bondage, Nollywood’s first commercial hit.

Nollywood Growth and Multicultural Marketing

Nigerian filmmakers have an admirable, DIY attitude. This brave spirit displayed has led to a massive volume of film production, although the quality falters in comparison to Hollywood and Bollywood movies. Strenghtening of Nollywood’s infrastructure is needed, with a reformation of production and distribution practices, in order for the Nollywood film industry to gain the full attention of global audiences and investors. A reconstruction of the Nollywood model will lead to bigger budgets and better standards of production. Advertisers serious in trying to attract African audiences as clients, need to know the importance of Nollywood and the attention this phenomenon draws from Africans living outside of Africa. Partnering with the major distributors or providing free giveaways or sponsored events with the stars from the movies are all important ingredients of multicultural marketing activity focusing on Africans living in North America or Europe.

Nollywood Movie Posters - Nigerian Film Market

In the last two decades, Nollywood has managed to generate a significant amount of revenue, and is now recognized as being Nigeria’s largest economy. Nollywood is the country’s second biggest employer, and is largely responsible for Nigeria’s new GDP (Gross Domestic Product) base of $500bn, for which Nollywood contributes 1.4 percent. There is, however, a serious issue of piracy. Data collection is also problematic and potential investors and backers are hard to attract.

[Tweet “#Nollywood Recognized as #Nigeria’s Largest Economy, 2nd Biggest Employer & 1.4% GDP Contributor”]

Illegal streaming of movies and limited knowledge of IP rights has unfortunately resulted in massive losses for many Nigerian filmmakers, although the Nigerian government has begun addressing this issue, and are making efforts to promote awareness. Training courses are now available, and filmmakers are learning about IP protection and their rights. Nigerian filmmakers are becoming more business savvy, according to Sandra Oyewole, of WIPO Magazine, who also added that the technical aspects, and the quality of acting and scripts, had seen an improvement, making Nollywood films a lot more attractive, for investors.

Nollywood Showcasing True Pieces of Africa – Viewed By Africans All Over The World

Nigeria is made up of a diversity of ethnicities, and the narratives of many movies reflect this cultural assortment. Universal themes, however, do appear in narratives, highlighting social issues focused on family dynamics, betrayal, poverty and love. These themes make Nollywood movies highly entertaining and captivating. The film, Half of a Yellow Sun, an adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s novel of the same name, reached even further, to mainstream audiences. This movie was hoped to be Nollywood’s breakthrough film, although its official release was delayed, as the Census Board expressed concern about its ‘sensitive content’, from scenes highlighting the Biafran war.

Although the movie’s official release date was April 25, the film wasn’t released until August 1, almost 3 months after the US and UK releases. This delay was opportune for pirates, and after the movie was posted on YouTube, illegal DVD and CD copies began floating around the country’s capital. Despite the film’s far reaching potential, investors may only have received a fraction of expected profits.

Multicultural marketing plays a major role in in lifting the e-commerce sales and the distribution of Nollywood movies, and iROKOtv, the Nollywood/African film web portal, is securing additional income and attention from investors. iROKOtv launched in December 2011 and boasts global audiences from the African diaspora in the UK, USA, Germany, Canada and Italy.

The time is ripe for African filmmakers and it’s essential that the industry is regarded as a serious Nigerian trade. Unlimited potential for Nigeria’s economic growth is evident, and with proper management, government backing, multicultural marketing, and increased monetization sources, Nollywood will swiftly move up the ladder, with ease.


Oyewole, S. (2014). A Peek Inside Nigeria’s Film Industry. [source page]
Profile, A. (2014). Nollywood helps uplift Nigeria as Africa’s Biggest Economy. [source page]

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