The Nigerian film industry has grown far beyond expectations… From a few Nollywood movies shot and distributed in the market, the Nigeria Film Industry known as Nollywood has come to be known as a large industry that produces films of over a hundred every week. The industry that was birthed in the 90s has grown to become the second-largest film industry in the world, second only to India in the volume of movies churned out yearly
Nollywood which started from producing only home video cassettes has now grown into making soap operas and cinema sensations that are available online for download and streaming.
Nollywood attracts a lot of local and foreign viewership and this attraction has led to the request for partnership from the film industries of other countries. On the 4th January 2015, Kaisar Alam, the Indian High Commissioner made a statement that Bollywood would partner with Nollywood a lot more. Last year, one of such partnerships occurred when Namaste Wahala was filmed by both Nigerians and Indians and it got a wide and wild reception.
With the introduction of social media, the Nigerian film industry has expanded even more. There have been consistent and vibrant requests for partnership between foreign film industries and that of Nigeria. The commonest of these collaborations is the one between Nollywood and Hollywood.
Examples of some of the Nollywood-Hollywood collaboration are movies like Farming, Black November (one of the most popular movies released in Nigeria in 2012), The Accidental Spy and the adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s historical fiction, Half of A Yellow Sun.
While the partnership of Nollywood and other film industries are common, even more commonplace is the partnership between studios. These studios connect to make films that are to be jointly released into both markets.
In February, news broke that Ebony Life Studios will be partnering with Westbrook Studios to tell original African stories. Westbrook is a studio founded by the popular American actors and producers, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. Already, they have announced series of projects that they would embark on like Are we getting married and Dada Safaris.
These collaboration with other movie industries in the world are not coincidences. They came from weeks and sometimes months of strategic planning and pitching. Below are some of the reasons why Nigerian studios partner with foreign studios.
The Need for Expansion and Reach of Nollywood Movies
This is a major reason behind the move to partner with foreign studios that are not in their own industry. They want to achieve more coverage and appear in countries that they would not have appeared in ordinarily or on their own. Collaborating with foreign studios gives them higher possibility of their films getting to countries beyond their reach.
Nigerian studios, partnering with American studios provides them with access to Hollywood, faster and better than they would have done on their own. The same goes for the American studios, making it a win-win situation for both studios.
A popular English adage says two heads are better than one. There is increased creativity, innovation, and execution when two studios come together to work on a project or promote a film that has been shot. In the aspect of film production, editing, and marketing, there is a higher chance of success when two studios come together to work on a project.
The Desire for Larger Income
Most film makers would shy away from admitting the fact that one major reason why they are making movies is to make money. We all want to make more money don’t we ?. So, another reason for international partnerships studios is the desire to generate more revenue. Since the movie would be marketed in both countries, the chances of raking in revenues are higher. Not only that, a collaboration that is properly done will of course encourage more collaboration-and more revenue. Asides the revenue, there is also the desire for fame. The more visibility Nigerian studios get in the Western media, the more fame they garner internationally. .
Obstacles and Risk of Partnership between Local and Foreign Studios
Bad government policies can hinder a prospering partnership between local and foreign studios. Bad economic policies that affect the value of the Nigerian currency would likely put such interests off.
This is a major setback that hinders this kind of partnerships. When either or both partners have limited funds to continuously pursue such partnership, it collapses. To partner, both studios must be financially capable.
While piracy is an issue in many film industries in many countries, it seems more pronounced in Nigeria. Movie makers and music producers are at the mercy of piracy and this heavily impacts on the revenue that a movie can generate. Most Nigerian film makers work with tight budget and then end up losing a large chunk of the revenue to piracy.
There is little or no regulation on distribution and rights. No copyright protection. Street vendors and marketers run along with any movie they can and distribute them. The justice system also does nothing to stop or curb the rate of piracy. This might discourage a foreign studio from partnering with a local one. As no one would want to put in resources in a venture that might not yield adequate profit.
Another challenge Nigerian studios face is the fact that Nigeria has an extremely poor cinema presence per one million people. There are only 0.4 cinemas per one million people. Juxtapose this with India which has 12 per one million and the US with over 100 per one million people.
This means that the penetration of these movies legally in Nigeria will be low and this will heavily impact the revenues these movies would yield. Box office is one way movie makers can recoup all they spent making a movie, but when theatres are in short supply, it is hard for them to do so. And it also discourages foreign partnerships.
While these challenges are rife, Nigerian studios are still finding ways to partner with foreign studios. And hopefully these collaborations will continue as it would yield economic success to both the collaborators and the economy. The Nigerian film industry is developing swiftly and can only get better with international collaborations.
List of Nollywood Movies out now
Below is a list of some of the Nollywood movies out now at the time or writing (May 2021)
- Namaste Wahala
- The Therapist
- The Razz Guy
- Tanwa Savage
- Suga Suga
- Breaded Life