You would have heard that the Nigerian film industry (Nollywood) is the second biggest in the world, but are you aware that the industry puts food on the table of over a million Nigerians? A report by the United Nations even dubbed the industry a potential gold mine.
In this post, we have listed out some amazing facts about our movie industry. The facts are relating to the humble beginning of the industry and its current state of being world-renowned.
Facts About the Nigerian Film Industry
- The first Nigerian feature movie was written by Wole Soyinka
Film production in Nigeria dated back to 1962 with Latola Films. However, the first indigenous feature movie in the country was an adaptation of a play written by Prof. Wole Soyinka. The title of the play is Kongi’s Harvest, and it was written in 1965 and made into a movie by Calpeny Nigeria Ltd in 1970.
Wole Soyinka, himself, starred in the movie – acting the leading role as the dictator of an African nation.
- Living in Bondage was the inaugural Nollywood movie
Initially released in 1992, Living in Bondage is the first Nigerian movie shot straight to video and made available to the general public through VHS (Video Home System) technology. The movie showed that real money can be made from selling movies through VHS technology, and that changed Nollywood forever.
Living in Bondage (1992) was directed by Chris Obi Rapu, and its highly anticipated sequel, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, premiered on Netflix in May 2020.
According to Jonathan Haynes in his book Hollywood: The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres (2018), the movie is the “the inaugural Nollywood film.”
- The name “Nollywood” first appeared in the New York Times
Many Nigerians assume that a Nigerian must have coined the name “Nollywood,” by replacing the “H” in Hollywood with an “N.” However, this is not the case, as the word was coined by Matt Steinglass in his New York Times’s publication about the Nigerian movie industry in 2002. The publication was about what he called a self-imposed “recess” Nigerian video makers enacted that year due to overproduction.
- The first set of Nollywood stars came from NTA
In the early years of the Nigerian movie industry, the majority of the actors, writers, directors and producers were former staff of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). The staff had left the national broadcasting station to work in movie production after the station stopped producing in-house media contents.
NTA’s decision to stop the production of media contents also created an opportunity for film producers to make interesting movies for the viewers that NTA no longer served.
- An average of 50 movies is released in Nigeria per week
As it is widely known, Nollywood is the second biggest movie industry in the world. Our movie industry attained this position because of its high production volume – about 50 movies weekly and 2,500 movies annually!
- Nollywood was projected to generate over ₦300 billion in 2020
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Nigeria’s TV and video market revenue was expected to reach US$806 million (over ₦300 billion) by the end of 2020. IMF’s 2018 summer report and PwC’s Spotlight on the Nigerian Film Industry claimed that the industry contributes to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2%.
- Omo Ghetto: The Saga is the highest-grossing Nollywood movie of all time
Movies are rated based on revenues generated from the box office, and The Wedding Party, released in 2016, used to be highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time in Nigerian cinemas. As at the time of this publication, Omo Ghetto: The Saga, by Funke Akindele, has taken over the position.
The Wedding Party generated ₦453,000,000, while Omo Ghetto: The Saga has generated ₦468,036,300 and counting. Other movies in the top 5 include The Wedding Party 2 (₦433,197,377); Chief Daddy (₦387,540,749); and Sugar Rush (₦287,053,270)
- The Nigerian film industry is the second largest employer of labour
While the main casts of a movie may just be for a few people, it takes a lot of people working behind the scene for the successful production of a film. That’s why there is always a long list of credits at the end of every movie. Some of the non-acting and non-directing jobs created by Nollywood include cameramen, screenplay writers, lightning experts, costume makers, caterers, make-up artists, location managers, studio managers, interior decorators, gaffers, photographers, graphics designers, video editors, and many more.
According to the United Nations report that called the industry a potential gold mine, Nollywood employs more than 1 million people as of 2013, and at that time, the industry was second to the agriculture industry.
As you can see, the Nigerian film industry is fascinating, and its evolution has become a blessing to the country. From the look of things, the industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon. It will continue to create many jobs, and young Nigerians can get their fair share of this multi-billion Naira industry, by acquiring relevant skills needed in this industry.