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23rd August 2011, 10:46 AM
Early years of the Nigerian Movie Industry

From humble beginnings in the middle of the 20th century, the Nigerian movie industry (or Nollywood as it is often called) has come a long way. As would be expected, movie making in Africa in the 1960s was no mean feat. Film making technology across the world was still in its early stages. If the equipment was difficult to setup in other parts of the world, in Nigeria, the equipment was virtually non-existent. Change started when the government of Nigeria begun to pressure local television and radio stations to broadcast more local content and less foreign productions. A direct result of this was the honing of local actors skills.

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Turning Point for Nollywood

In the 1980s, Nollywood continued on its growth path. However, it was not until 1992 that the industry experienced a turning point. In that year, what many consider as Nollywood's first blockbuster was released. The film known as "Living in Bondage" was a watershed moment for Nigerian filmmakers. It received acclaim and achieved reasonable wide distribution. After this, the industry picked up momentum as the number of film production houses went up.

Turning Point for Nollywood

In the 1980s, Nollywood continued on its growth path. However, it was not until 1992 that the industry experienced a turning point. In that year, what many consider as Nollywood's first blockbuster was released. The film known as "Living in Bondage" was a watershed moment for Nigerian filmmakers. It received acclaim and achieved reasonable wide distribution. After this, the industry picked up momentum as the number of film production houses went up.

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Collages of Popular Stars of Nollywood (by NBP)

Present Day Nollywood

Today, the impact of Nollywood on the African film making industry has been phenomenal. With a passionate following outside Nigeria in such countries as South Africa, Zambia, and Kenya, Nollywood movies have grown in stature. The actors have acted as Nigeria's unofficial ambassadors and become household names across the continent. With an estimated income of anything from $250 million to $500 million USD, many producers and actors alike have become fabulously wealthy as a result.


Production Technique

Nigerian movies have a number of things going for them and that can be picked out as the factors that have led to its success. The first is the low budget. Unlike Hollywood and even Bollywood films that sometimes require millions of dollars to produce, Nigerian movies require much less. It is not surprising to find out that the total cost of producing a certain movie is less than $50,000. USD The second point, which is related to the first, is the high number of films churned each year. The total number of Nollywood movies released in any given year is between 1,000 and 2,000: a large number by any measure.

A third key success factor is the story line. With themes ranging from religion, marriage, traditions, and politics, the movies are able to strike a chord with audiences across the continent. A typical Hollywood movie would find this market a hard sell as the content and theme of the moves are sometimes very difficult for the average African resident to relate to.

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Cost of Nollywood Movies

Finally, there is the cost of the final product including VCD, DVD, and/or Blue-Ray. A Nigerian movie costs $2 USD on the continent. Compare that with the cost of at least $20 USD and sometimes up to $50 USD for an American or Foreign movie. With some Africa countries having less than 50 per cent of the country living on less than a dollar per day, the pool that can buy these foreign films at that price is small.

source: the africanside