The World’s Second Largest Film Industry: Nollywood

Nigeria hardly comes to most minds when one thinks of cinema. But as CNN highlights, Africa’s most populous country — and one of the world’s potential great powers — is already making its mark in the ever-more globalized film industry.

Nigeria’s film industry pumps out around 50 movies per week and is estimated to generate around $600 million annually for the country’s economy. With more than 1,200 films a year, it’s the world’s second biggest producer behind India. Nollywood is also Nigeria’s second biggest provider of work, employing directly or indirectly more than one million people, according to the United States International Trade Commission.

However, films are typically low-budget and revenues are small. One of the highest grossing Nollywood film so far is thought to be “Ije: The journey”, which generated $500,000 when it was released in 2010. It stars two of Nollywood’s biggest stars, Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde as sisters fighting for justice.

Most Nigerian films are released directly to DVD or television; Netflix recently dedicated an entire section to Nollywood. These media platforms, plus the low cost of production, gives Nigerian cinema an image problem — though not if filmmakers could help it.

In recent years, a new wave of filmmakers who want to shake off Nollywood’s reputation for shoddy productions is emerging. Dubbed the New Nigeria cinema, these young professionals want to create a movie industry which can compete with Hollywood — not just in quantity but also quality.

Actor Wale Ojo, one of the biggest supporters of the movement, told CNN: “New Nigeria Cinema basically means an elevation of Nigerian film — high production values, good strong narratives, stories that capture the essence of who we are as Nigerians, as Africans.

“And it means also that these films can be shown at international film festivals anywhere in the world, from Toronto to Cannes to Venice.”

As Nigeria continues to grow in political, economic, and global influence, it is likely that its soft power, such as cinema, will become more prominent on the world stage.
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