Making Nigeria’s Movie Scene a Contributor to the Economy

Top producers, filmmakers, and executives from Nigeria’s film industry travelled to France for the Cannes Film Festival’s first “Pavillon Afriques,” a series of sessions and screenings highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing filmmakers from across the continent. Their goal: raising visibility for Nollywood and participating in discussions about financing, dealmaking, and the expansion of distribution. Nollywood, the nickname for Nigeria’s robust film industry, has long been hamstrung by piracy. For years filmmakers have watched with frustration as swarms of illegitimate DVDs quickly overwhelmed their promising cinematic efforts, slashing potential profits and making it difficult to raise money to produce future films. But in the spring of 2019 the makers of Chief Daddy managed to cash in on a new window of opportunity, this time online. EbonyLife sold the movie’s global streaming rights to Netflix Inc., for an undisclosed sum. In March the streaming service made the movie available to 149 million customers in 190 countries, most of whom live well beyond the reach of those pirated DVDs. That’s welcome news to the Nollywood community, which since its inception in the 1990s has emerged as a promising source of growth within the Nigerian economy. According to a 2017 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Nollywood is the second-largest producer of films in the world, trailing only India’s Bollywood. Nigeria’s arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, of which Nollywood is a significant part, generated 239 billion naira ($664 million) in 2016 and is projected to continue growing.


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