Trends that will rule movie busi­ness in 2019

Business Day (Nigeria) - - ENTERTAINMENT - Sto­ries by OBINNA EMELIKE

No doubt, the Nige­rian mov i e in­dus­try, aptly tagged Nollywood, has made an im­pres­sion­able mark in the global movie in­dus­try.

The in­dus­try, which sur­passed Hol­ly­wood as the world’s sec­ond largest movie in­dus­try by vol­ume, right be­hind In­dia’s Bol­ly­wood in 2009, as well as achieved an in­dus­try record of N853.9 bil­lion ($5.1 bil­lion), and about 1.4 per­cent con­tri­bu­tion to the Nige­rian econ­omy in 2014, hopes to achieve more this year.

The in­dus­try is ex­pected to play a key role in achieve­ment of $8 bil­lion rev­enue tar­get of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try to the Nige­rian econ­omy in 2019; a tar­get set in 2014 when the in­dus­try reached the $5 bil­lon rev­enue mark.

How­ever, the movie in­dus­try stake­hold­ers, es­pe­cially film­mak­ers and pro­duc­ers, are now lever­ag­ing on im­proved strate­gies, ef­fi­cient mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion to en­sure sus­tain­abil­ity of their busi­ness and also to woo in­vest­ments into the in­dus­try.

So far, the in­vest­ments in the in­dus­try have im­pacted pos­i­tively on the qual­ity of the pro­duc­tion, sto­ry­line, qual­ity of cast, equip­ment and tech­niques.

To sus­tain the devel­op­ment, the in­dus­try is lever­ag­ing on some of the proven trends and strate­gies more in 2019.

One of such trends is movie pre­mieres. This year, film­mak­ers hope to col­lab­o­rate more with cin­ema houses and film dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies for movie pre­mieres and ef­fec­tive film dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels that will fight-off piracy, op­ti­mise rev­enue and safe­guard in­vest­ments in the in­dus­try.

Since 2014, an av­er­age of five new films premiere on at least 20 cin­e­mas across the coun­try in a month and this has given rise to grow­ing in­vest­ments in cin­ema busi­ness.

Speak­ing on the grow­ing movie pre­mière trend, Ken­nis Ik­wuagwu, a Nollywood con­tent cre­ator/ CEO, July Films, noted that the three most gross­ing films in Nige­ria The Wed­ding Party, A Trip to Ja­maica, and 10 Days in Sun City, which grossed N 453,050,000, N178,500,000, and N177,000,000 re­spec­tively, achieved the box of­fice gross­ing break­through through pre­mieres at cin­e­mas across the coun­try and the world over.

But while movie premiere is trendy, in­vest­ment in more cin­e­mas seems trendier for in­vestors now be­cause of the high re­turn on in­vest­ments. Cur­rently, the cin­ema busi­ness at­tracts over N15 bil­lion in­vest­ments in big screens across the coun­try with the likes of Film­house, Sil­ver­bird, Ge­n­e­sis among other cin­e­mas open­ing at ev­ery corner, es­pe­cially shop­ping malls.

As well, movie pro­duc­ers are now work­ing more with movie dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies to en­sure op­ti­mal rev­enue col­lec­tion. Lead­ing the pack is FilmOne Distri­bu­tions, which con­trols a lion share of the movie dis­tri­bu­tion busi­ness fol­lowed by Sil­ver­bird Film Dis­tri­bu­tion, Blue Pictures and a few oth­ers.

These com­pa­nies will be busier this year than in 2018 be­cause of the many movie projects that are on­go­ing and in the pipe­line.

Moses Ba­batope, CEO, Filmone Distri­bu­tions, be­lieves Nige­ria needs more cin­ema screens around the coun­try to en­cour­age cin­ema cul­ture and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Nige­rian movie con­tent. For him, ef­fec­tive film dis­tri­bu­tion net­work and movie pre­mieres are the key to fight­ing piracy.

An­other trend that will change the in­dus­try this year is the many start-ups in dig­i­tal me­dia mar­ket­ing, which movie mak­ers are now lever­ag­ing on. They will do more this year be­cause of their proven track record of pay­ing what is due to the movie mak­ers.

Fore­most of the dig­i­tal plat­forms are online stream­ing out­fits such as IROKO Part­ners, which li­censes and streams Nollywood con­tent to global sub­scribers, who pay $1.50 a month.

Ac­cord­ing to Ja­son Njoku, founder, Iroko Part- ners, “The fo­cus is to take this pop­u­lar movie in­dus­try, digi­tise it, and put the right frame­work around it to cap­ture the proper value. The rev­enue is al­ready there, it’s just scat­tered. If stake­hold­ers can in­vest in Nollywood and make back prof­its, it will lead to larger bud­gets and bet­ter qual­ity con­tent.”

Be­yond Iroko part­ners, Netflix, an Amer­i­can dig­i­tal con­tent dis­trib­u­tor, is be­com­ing trendier for movie mak­ers.

In 2015, Kunle Afo­layan, one of the lead­ing Nollywood direc­tors, signed a deal with Netflix to dis­trib­ute his award-winning psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller, Oc­to­ber 1, set around Nige­ria’s jour­ney to in­de­pen­dence in 1960.

Just three years later, Netflix is now rid­ing on the suc­cess­ful dis­tri­bu­tion of Nollywood con­tent to own­ing a whole pro­duc­tion right. Its re­cent $12 mil­lion movie rights pur­chase of Nige­rian novel Beast of No Na­tion, to star Idris Elba has en­cour­aged a lot of movie mak­ers to think dig­i­tal now.

As well, most are ready to sell to Netflix fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful ac­qui­si­tion of Genevieve Nnaji’s “Lion Heart,” the first orig­i­nal Nollywood film to be bought by the Amer­i­can movie stream­ing plat­form.

Be­yond Iroko, Netflix, Youtube is be­com­ing a com­peti­tor, while NVIVO TV, a new OTT stream­ing video ser­vice, pow­ered by the Cisco® In­fi­nite Video Plat­form, is hold­ing forth at home.

How­ever, the suc­cess so far with dig­i­tal plat­form is due to in­creas­ing in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion across the coun­try, with more gain­ing ac­cess ev­ery day as the pen­e­tra­tion in­creases.

As well, in­vestors are look­ing at build­ing more cin­e­mas, with Film­house lead­ing the pack with 25 new cin­e­mas tar­get even in sec­ondary cities.

With the trends, the big­gest losers are pi­rates. But they are also de­vis­ing means of con­tin­u­ing in their il­le­gal busi­ness, mean­ing that movie mak­ers should also not rest on mov­ing on to more for­mi­da­ble plat­forms to re­main in busi­ness in 2019 and be­yond.

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