Nigerians always complain of the poor quality of movies in Nollywood, however they still keep the faith that one day their prayers will be answered; well pray no more. Nollywood, recently produced its most expensive movie yet, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’.
The movie cost approximately N1.27 billion ($8m) to make. Half of a Yellow Sun’ is an adaptation of Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, the movie was shot at Tinapa Film Studio, Cross River State, and in the United Kingdom. The movie is yet to be released but we have confirmed that the movie was directed by Biyi Bandele who had most of its cast and crew flown from abroad. The cast comprised Britons and Nigerians such as Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, American Gangster, 2012, Salt); Thandie Newton (Mission: Impossible II, Crash, The Pursuit of Happiness); Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, For Coloured Girls); Joseph Mawle (Women in Love, Game of Thrones); John Boyega (Attack the Block); Onyeka Onwenu, Nigerian singer and actress; Genevieve Nnaji and Zack Orji.
The production quality of the film directly points tothe growing professionalism in Nollywood. In the last five years, Nollywood has been growing in terms of output and quality. .The development has also impacted huge returns. Not only is Nollywood ranked third globally in terms of quality of production, financially Nollywood is also placed third in the world. Managing director, Robert Orya of Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), says: ‘The global film and entertainment industry generated about $90.6 billion revenue in 2010,’ Orya explains, saying ‘the revenue increased to $102.7 billion in 2012.
Most of these revenue streams are largely from theatrical distribution. North America contributed the largest market share of about 40 percent. Europe, Middle East and Africa accounted for 24 percent, Latin America 20 percent, and Asia Pacific made only 3 percent contribution.’
Film maker Victor Okhai says a new breed of film makers began to bring professionalism into the industry, which explains the improvement in the quality of films produced lately. Some of those that fall into this group are Tunde Kelani with movies like ‘Thunderbolt’ (‘Magun’), Tade Ogidan with ‘Dangerous Twins,’ Richard Mofe Damijo’s ‘Out of Bounds,’ Ego Boyo with ‘30 Days,’ the Amstel Malta Box Office series. ‘It is expected that the quality of films will improve,’ says Okhai. ‘We are at a stage where we can no longer play the mediocre anymore. We have discovered that when we attend film festivals, we realised that nobody pays attention to Nollywood films. They look at the industry with disdain at these film festivals. Then local film makers came back home to do some serious work.
Many film makers are challenged by what they see at film festivals,’ he says. Before the emergence of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ the movie ‘Tango with Me’ produced by Mahmoud Ali-Balogun, ranked as the most expensive film. The movie was shot with the latest Kodak 35mm camera, ‘Tango with Me’ costs over N50 million to produce says Ali-Balogun. To show the passion Ali Balogun had for movie production, he travelled all the way to Bulgaria to master film technology. The end product of the trip was an outstanding film that ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ has knocked-off. Experts say the return of the cinemas has offered a veritable platform for film makers to escape piracy and the open market. By granting first viewing to cinemas, film producers are assured of getting returns on their investments.
But Okhai still emphasizes on the quality of production, he says: ‘Cinemas cannot project poor quality films,’ explains Okhai, as ‘your flaws as a film producer are blown in proportion to the size of the screen. Film makers in the Diaspora are returning home to show how good films are made abroad. Their films are changing the way local film producers are making films’. True to Okhai’s theory, movie producers can recover tremendous amounts from cinema viewing. A couple of examples are In 2009 for instance, Stephanie Okereke’s movie, ‘Through the Glass,’ premiered at the cinemas making over N10 million. This was followed by Kunle Afolayan’s ‘The Figurine’ becoming the first local film to make over N30 million in the cinemas. Chineze Anyaene’s film, ‘Ije,’ also recorded tremendous success at the cinemas, making over N57 million and viewed by an estimated 14,000 people. In 2010, ‘Ije’ was reputed to be Nigeria’s highest selling movie in the cinemas, returning to the cinemas three times that year. Its success was next to Hollywood’s ‘Avatar.’ ‘Anchor Baby’ produced by Lonzo Nzekwe also made over N17 million