Nollywood - The Nigerian Movie Industry

A Nollywood movie location
A Nollywood movie location

Some Nollywood Stars

Van Vicker
Van Vicker
Genevieve Nnaji
Genevieve Nnaji
Ini Edo
Ini Edo
Dakore Egbuson
Dakore Egbuson
Caroline Ekanem
Caroline Ekanem
Actresses Kate Henshaw (left) and Rita Dominic (right)
Actresses Kate Henshaw (left) and Rita Dominic (right)
Mercy Johnson
Mercy Johnson
Monalisa Chinda
Monalisa Chinda
Nkem Owoh (Osuofia)
Nkem Owoh (Osuofia)
Oge Okoye
Oge Okoye
Ramsey Nouah
Ramsey Nouah
Uche Jombo
Uche Jombo

So I keep going on and on about Hollywood and British movies, but I’m yet to really talk about the Nigerian movies, or the Nigerian movie industry called Nollywood. I know, silly name. India comes up with Bollywood, Nigeria comes up with Nollywood; I wonder if they have Jollywood in Japan! Lol.

The Background

No matter, how much of a joke you and I might think the name is, the industry in my country isn’t anything of a joke. For starters, Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world, in terms of the number of films produced per year. We’re ahead of the United States (Hollywood), who’s third. India (Bollywood) is number one.

The Nigerian movie industry is still considered a nascent industry, though; with a life span of only about two decades. Of course, movies have been made in Nigeria as far back as in the 1960s, but these were without digital filming. Now the case is different. Over 200 home videos are produced every month! CNN once did a report that estimated the worth of Nollywood to be in the neighbourhood of $250 Million dollars.

The Genesis

Ola Balogun and Hubert Ogunde are considered the pioneers of the industry. They made the first films in the 1960s, but because they couldn’t recover their expenses, being that the industry was still fresh and all, they had to bail out. A decision I’m sure they might regret now.

So even though films weren’t popular back then, and Nigeria had just gotten her independence and all, structures were still being put in place; structures which included broadcasting stations. A lot of smart people went into small-film and theatre production, broadcasting their videos through these stations. This is how an informal market for home video films began to develop. Before then, it was mainly Clark Gable movies on black and white (Glad I wasn’t born then).

In 1992 Nek Video Links – an outfit owned by Kenneth Nnebue from the Eastern part of Nigeria (where I’m from), in a city called Onitsha, in Anambra took the opportunity in this era and released a box-office smash movie titled, Living in Bondage. This is the movie that finally gave the Nigerian movie industry the definition that it sought for decades.

The Saga

After Living in Bondage, all of a sudden, everybody wanted to be a film producer. If Kenneth Nnebue could do it, anybody can! And so the movies piled up. There was Evil Passion, Taboo, Nneka the Pretty Serpent, and Rattlesnake. All classics in my book. However, the industry was owned exclusively by the Igbos (my tribe); my people, as they are renowned for took it as a business, which it is, and turned it into a money maker. Most of the movies of the time were made in Igbo language with English subtitles. The industry exploded, and today Nigerian movies are marketed all across Africa and to the rest of the world.

As time went by, lesser movies were made with Igbo (a thing I hate) and more with English. It helped to expand the market further, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it was the primary reason for the market’s expansion. Look at India for instance, they have practically all their movies made in Hindi, and no one took notice of them then. Now, we can’t get enough of them. And they still make their movies in Hindi. This isn’t the case with Nollywood, when they expanded, they sold out, and now you can hardly see a movie made in Igbo, but you can see a lot of Yoruba movies now. Though, they’re not as main-stream as Igbo produced movies. It is mainly watched by just the Yorubas. The Northerners as well, also make their movies primarily in Hausa.

In 2003, a film titled Osuofia in London, produced and directed by Kingsley Ogoro was among the first Nigerian films to attain international recognition. The film was a spin off from an old Nollywood movie called, Ikuku where a comedic character called Osuofia, played by the famous Nigerian actor-comedian Nkem Owoh is adapted from. Ogoro got Owoh to play the role in his movie, and it went berserk!


Another guy who made a name for himself in Nollywood is Chico Ejiro, who once bragged that he can complete a film production in three days! They guy actually directed over 80 movies in an 8 year period. That ought to be a record! Chico Ejiro also has his brother, Zeb Ejiro doing the directing thing, and they’re both forces to reckon with, in the industry. They are like Tony and Ridley Scott in Nigeria. Ha!

The Growth

Back in the day, Nigerian movies were made using analog video, like betacam SP, but nowadays all home videos are produced with digital video technology. Nigeria is quick to adapt; HD filming is taking over pretty quickly.

The Guardian in a popular article (March 2006) reports Nollywood to be the third largest in the world in terms in earnings. The paper estimates the industry’s annual earnings to be in the neighbourhood of $200 million.

The Competition

What do you think? Hollywood and Bollywood, of course! Lol. But seriously, Nigeria’s biggest and closest competition in Africa is Ghana. Over the past few years both film industries have had to resolve this by doing tons of collaborative work. You’ll find a lot of films featuring a big actor from Ghana, like Van Vicker and a big actress in Nigeria, like Genevieve Nnaji in a romance movie. Collaborations such as these have sometimes made outsiders to refer to Ghanaian movies as Nigerian movies. The Ghanaians are loving the collaborations, though. No kidding!

The Production

That’s where I got a problem with the name ‘Nollywood’. It isn’t like Hollywood where there’s actually a place with studios in it and all. There’s really no place called Nollywood. It’s nowhere! And the movies are shot in real locations – homes, offices, hotels, etc mainly in the top three movie cities of Abuja, Lagos and Enugu. In the end of each Nigeria film you’ll see in the credits where names of people who probably own homes, hotels, hospitals, etc used in the movies area appreciated.

The Distribution

Primarily there are two main distribution markets – The Idumota Market on Lagos Island, and 51 Iweka Road in Onitsha, Anambra States.

At present, the Nollywood owns the movie market in Africa, selling more than any other movies from any other African movie industry. Nollywood has over 300 producers churning out movies at the rate of about 1,000 – 2,000 a year! Which is pretty phenomenal! There isn’t any formal box office, though there are theatres – so most movies go straight to DVD and Video Discs (VCD). An average film sells about 50,000 copies. A blockbuster sells several hundred thousand copies. A disc could go for about $2 or less each. So basically, anyone can buy a movie, and it is always constantly in demand, so the producers keep churning them out like crazy. Who cares about quality when you have loads of cash, right!

The Cost

There aren’t really any big money film studios like Warner Bros, or Universal or anything like that. Almost all Nigerian movies are independent. We make 100% indie movies here! So basically, an average film costs is somewhere between US$15,000 and $25,000. Unbelievable, right? And it takes about a week to shoot these movies. Yeah, you read right – 7 days, on average. After post-production, the movie goes straight to video; this reduces marketing cost, since there is always an on-demand structure for new movies. The movies can sell up to 200,000 copies in a week. This yields a massive profit for the producers! Imagine if you made a movie with $25,000 which in Nigerian currency is about N3 Million, and you sold 200,000 copies for $2 or N300 per copy. Do the math, you would be making $400,000 or N60,000,000 per movie. That’s 2000% over of what the movie cost! Now, imagine if you’re making like one of those every month. Now you get it.

Recent reports place the industry at a worth of half a billion dollars, and it just keeps growing.

The Theme

Nollywood movies are mostly all moral-like. With a lesson to learn from and all. Some are religious, even preachy like mad, others deal with social issues and ills, corruption, AIDS, Supernatural, epics and just stuff that concern the everyday Nigerian. They try to portray everyday life as real as possible. Not really, anyway. They exaggerate a lot. And almost all Nigerian movies have sequels. But sequels are actually a whole movie split into parts, not like different movies with different plots or anything.

The Situation

It’s an open market – a free for all market. Anyone, and I mean anyone can dig in. Producers are coming out from everywhere. The demand keeps growing. In all of Africa it is the most watched movies. The distribution is going crazy, even Nigerians in Diaspora can walk into video outlets and get a home video. Even on satellite you have channels that show Nollywood movies exclusively!

The End

You just wait till I get my ish together, and I’m making my first horror blockbuster! Ha!


Nollywood Movies to Buy

A Scene from the Movie "Osuofia In London"

More by this Author


Comments 40 comments

\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

I have a lot of Nigerian friends, whenever you go round to their house they have the biggest screens, and are all tuned in to Nigerian movies...... They can be very loud with lots of arguing between the hubby and wife, the woman really shout and the men in the ones I have seen all have lots of woman. I love the colourful clothes they wear....


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 7 years ago from London, UK

Interesting. Very well written Hub. Gorgeous pics. You have done Nigeria proud. :)


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

They sure a very glamourous, Brenda. Nigerian women are known for that. This is usually depicted in their movies.


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

Thanks Lade_E. I'm glad you liked it.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Cool insight into Nollywood, fierycj! I had absolutely no idea that it existed. "Okoye" in Oge Okoye means "Sunday" right? I know this because back in the early 1990s, the Kansas City Chiefs had one of the most feared running backs named Christian Okoye. He was a beast to play against! Okoye implies that he was born on Sunday, I believe...Great hub fierycj.


Raven King profile image

Raven King 7 years ago from Cabin Fever

Very interesting hub. I never heard of Nollywood. It sounds interesting. The movies done in hollywood are usually remakes of previous films, tv shows, adaptations from novels and even video games. It is nearly impossible for a screenwriter to get their screenplay read.

So what kind of horror movies would you make? Vampires, werewolves, chupacabre, boogieman, voodoo, aliens, yeti, urban legends, or ghosts?


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

at Dohn, you're damn skippy about 'Oge Ogoye'. Born on Sunday. Thanks for dropping in, with your glorious sense of humour. I like it!


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

Thanks Raven...I'm so glad to finally have you here. I want that hug you spoke of now! LOL. Hey, you're right about the difficulty in Hollywood. That's not much of the case in Nollywood, though.

My movie is a horror based on a tale that was somewhat of an urban legend. But I'l disclose much here, you never know who's reading. However, if you really wanna know the details email/contact me on it. I'll holla back at you real fast!


Raven King profile image

Raven King 7 years ago from Cabin Fever

True.

Now about that (((HUG))))).


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

What a great Hub - your passion really shines through.

I had never heard much about Nollywood, so really enjoyed that little tour through your country. I love the fact that it is still possible for a low-budget director to make it, and I can imagine that you come up with some creative solutions to technical problems!

It sounds like there is so much potential there - I look forward to reading more about it. And a few more pictures of beautiful Nigerian actresses would be appreciated.....:D


lrohner profile image

lrohner 7 years ago from USA

Okay, I am now edumacated. Great hub, and I did learn. But Nollywood? Ya know, Hollywood is Hollywood. Nollywood is wannabe. And I don't think you guys should or want to be wannabes. I'd watch a Nigerian film over an Indian film any day of the week!


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

@Raven King: always up for a hug with you!

@Sufidreamer: Thanks man, it gives me a lot of hope when I think about the opportunity. and about the gorgeous Nigerian actresses, I might just oblige ya...

@Irohner: Like I said, the name 'Nollywood' is dumb. But its too far gone now to change it anything else. they should just concentrate on increasing the quality. Thanks for dropping in.


psychicdog.net profile image

psychicdog.net 7 years ago

Never heard of Nollywood,,, Invigorational!


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

Thanks psychicdog...glad you like it.


JonTutor profile image

JonTutor 7 years ago from USA

Gotta learn something new....never knew hollywood was #3...beats me why everybody has to name there film industry ending with "wood".... Caroline has the star appeal.... those eyes have fire in them.... Which chick do you dig?


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

We see eye to eye on Caroline. She's a brilliant actress, too. Dakore and Monalisa are very talented, too. If I ever had to cast any star-actress for a role, it would be either of these three. Thanks for dropping in.


Danladi Lintima Emmanuel 7 years ago

i want to be a member


fierycj profile image

fierycj 7 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

What exactly do you want to be a member of? If you mean Nollywood? Then I would suggest joining the associated guilds i.e. Actors Guild, etc depending on where your talent lies. Goodluck.


ISOLATON 6 years ago

NOLLYWOOD, HOOLLYWOOD, Bollywood and every other woodable woods NIGERIAN NOLLYWOOD IS THE BEST


fierycj profile image

fierycj 6 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

Thanks for the enthusiasm, ISOLATION...nice name...:D


Philipo profile image

Philipo 6 years ago from Nigeria

This is a nice one, brother. Naija for life.


fierycj profile image

fierycj 6 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

Uh-huh Philip. Thanks.


Onyi 6 years ago

I LIKE TO JOIN NIGERIA MOVIE INDUSTRY ifyoffordum@yahoo.com


Jude 6 years ago

I believe Nollywood film industry is actually helping the African film industry. It helps Nigerian writers and directors tell our own stories from our own point of view and not Hollywood's point of view. The quality is also getting better and will soon catch up to international standards. Take this new Nollywood film "Anchor Baby" for instance. It was written and directed by a Nigerian director Lonzo Nzekwe and the lead actress is also a Nigeria actress Omoni Oboli. The picture quality is on the same standard as most films shot in Hollywood. Here's a link to their trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Yx_kiBOZDA


fierycj profile image

fierycj 6 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa Author

Thanks Jude...good one...


Jasper 5 years ago

Hi i need good manager to work with... am into music and also i write movies currently 2 movies and 2 music as been documented. not just a movie but something beyond movie and this can fesh us millions in return. contact me on mtvbase01@yahoo.com.. 1 on 1 before we can do anything.


Folake 5 years ago

I am a big fan of NOLLYWOOD and how much it has progressed since it's beginning, it is the only movie industry that shows the interest, culture, and realities of black Africans or sub-Saharan Africans, not the stereotypical view of what Hollywood shows about Africa, as a result it has been reported Hollywood is no longer popular or has a dominance in Africa any more, Nollywood is now the top movie industry of Sub-Saharan Africa now:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/fi...

I predict in the future Hollywood won't even exist any more in Sub-Saharan Africa, even when some african countries will become developed, it will be Nollywood and to an extent Ghanaian movies in control

Right now I am anxious to see some anticipated Nollywood movies coming out, here are the movies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbtcwK_KQ4o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBmbd2-7zAI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MzCiELGKAo

there are others but I really want to see these movies


deepakkumaarr 5 years ago

this is the first time i am seeing a good hub .... !


NnekaO profile image

NnekaO 5 years ago from california

Nice, very funny and unbiased.


emmanuel otigba 5 years ago

i love Nigerian movies


NAIJA 5 years ago

keep up the good work Nollywood


sade 5 years ago

I LOVE NOLLYWOOD, just keep progressing and do what you do best


IBIENEYE BELEMA 5 years ago

Nigeria movie actress ur jst too much jst kip the fire burning u rock.


kenya baby 5 years ago

Love you guys, you make africa proud


Babygirl 4 years ago

All I can do is smile :)


jennymath 4 years ago

I am very fond of reading about nigerians.I loved to watch nigerians movies.This post impressed me a lot!!Thanks


Jacob Ndidi festus 18 months ago

hello,are you interested of acting blue film where you can be receiving 2.5million a mount you can simply contact the manager of the industry on this our contact NDIDI FESTUS on this with kind +2348101559803 or any kind of film @your wish please do let know for your pride is the grouwth of our country


mr peter 18 months ago

are you interested of acting bluefilm in nigeria .male and female are needed in this pronster so if you are ready to act us, we are going to pay any one that are interested #4oo,ooo here is our email address nigerianollywoodbluefilmhotal@gmail.com or call one of our agent in nigeria 09030803982


eldee 17 months ago

DO YOU HAVE A TALENT IN ACTING, WRITING, CINEMATOGRAPHY. DO YOU WANT TO BE PART OF NOLLYWOOD AS AN ACTOR / ACTRESS, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR? Come join us lets shape your dreams and guide you. REGISTER NOW BELOW!!!!! First Name Last Name Email Address Telephone Number Sex Age State of Origin State Of Residence: Contact Address: email Mrmicheal35@gmail.com he will help you...


Oladoyin james 16 months ago

I WANT TO MARRY INI EDO, I LOVE HER

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