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From EbonyLife Film Crew, good news for Nollywood

By Shaibu Husseini 27 March 2016   |   1:56 am


There is good news for Nollywood. Outside its many internal squabbles, the industry has something that its practitioners and followers can cheer about. It is the news is that the wave-making, box-office movie from EbonyLife Films, Fifty, will this week close its remarkable 4-month cinema run in Nigeria. Not only will it close as the longest running Nollywood film in a Nigerian cinema in recent history, officials of EbonyLife Films working in partnership with Film One Distribution says the movie would have grossed nearly N100 million through box office takings alone when it closes this weekend.

This will be the second Nollywood film that has reached the N100 million mark in gross earning. The first was Ayo Makun’s comedy movie 30 Days in Atlanta reportedly grossed N150 million at the cinemas. No Nollywood movie released in the few existing cinemas has gone past N60 million prior to that feat recorded by 30 Days in Atlanta which has also been heavily pirated.

But with the projection that the much-hyped Fifty, the story of a pivotal week in the lives of four successful African Women in 21st century Lagos, would gross N100 million by the time it closes this week, the movie will go into records as the second highest grossing movie in box office.

‘’We are pleased by the films performance,” says Moses Babatope of FilmOne distributors. ‘’If not for the global phenomenon that a film like Star Wars was, Fifty would have no doubt surpassed the N100 million mark’’.

The notable distributor explained that Star Wars was released on the same day as Fifty in two formats hence a lot more screens and mass media hype but that did not make it to dwarf Fifty at the cinema because it had its own values. But if we didn’t have a big hit like Star Wars and now some Hollywood Blockbusters like Batman versus Superman, we will be talking about over N100 million in cinema earning alone’’.

But aside the theatrical earning, Fifty, according to its promoters, has earned much more than what was invested in the movie. In fact, officials of EbonyLife Films say the overall performance of the movie ‘has redefined return on investment metrics in the African film industry’’. They estimate that through various revenue-generating streams, including premieres, sponsorship, partnership, private screenings, in-flight entertainment deals and Video on Demand (VOD), “the film has grossed over ₦400m”. According to Babatope, the revenue stream for the movie also includes ‘’a first-of-its-kind deal with Internet streaming provider, Netflix’’.

No doubt, the movie’s revenue intake leverages on a unique business model that is rarely explored in the Nigerian Film Industry. For officials of EbonyLife Films, the model would serve, as proof to various stakeholders that an unorthodox promotional mix combined with high quality production would yield measurable results.

Fifty has enjoyed rave reviews and international acclaim since it was first screened at London Film Festival 2015, including BBC, CNN, Vogue, and Essence and other national online and print titles. While speaking on Fifty’s cinema run, Executive Producer, Mo Abudu said, “We started our cinema run in early December 2015 and four months later the film continues to resonate with moviegoers across the country. We are extremely proud and it is testament that Nigerians do support their own”.

FIFTY enjoyed tremendous support from Lagos State Government, Federal Government, sorporate and social Nigeria. Industry captains – Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Herbert Wigwe – amongst many attended the premiere, music superstars Banky W & Waje surprised fans with Cinema ‘Meet & Greet’ in malls across the country.

Jane Mote, VP Content and Creative at Turner Broadcasting says the movie was celebratory of Lagos, strong women and African success. She also said: “Cinema 2 at the Ritzy in Brixton was sold out and the audience loved it. It’s not high art, its popular entertainment that shows people and places in one of the fastest growing economies in a refreshing new light.” For Ojoma Ochai, Director, British Council, ‘Fifty’ is an amazing film. ‘’It was an amazing film – the music, costumes, story, and the elegance with which the plot was delivered’’.

Interestingly, the success of Fifty has spawned a television series. The movie executives announced that they would extend the movie’s success onto the small screen. ‘’The TV show which is set for production in the fourth quarter of 2016 will continue the premise that the movie set up – a week in the lives of four African women approaching the golden age of Fifty,” they said. They also announced that EbonyLife Films would release its second feature title The Wedding Party in December 2016.

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