Technology has played a huge role in the evolution of Nollywood. Before Netflix expands into Africa for showcase films from the continent, Nigerian filmmakers have had to rely on the limited reach of the national broadcasting station, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
The growth of Nollywood has given way to a new Nigerian cinema with filmmakers dedicated to “creating films that tell stories about Africa and are made in Africa by Africans”. according FilmStyle blog writer Matt Jacobs. New Nigerian Cinema is also committed to raising the technical standards of filmmaking in Nigeria. This movement has made the Nigerian film industry the second most productive film industry globally, surpassing even the United States. Before the mass production of Nigerian movies, Africans used to watch Hollywood or Bollywood movies, but now Africans can enjoy made in Africa content featuring their own cultures and creations. Amidst these changes in the Nigerian film industry, a few movies have stood out as major hits in the new waves of content.
Nollywood movies are making waves around the world
With the premiere in 2016 of “The wedding party“Nollywood burst onto the international film scene and has since evolved tremendously, giving way to two more big hits in 2018:”Lionheart” and “chief dad.” “The Wedding Party” made a domestic gross profit 4 billion NGN (about 1 million USD). Likewise, “Chief Daddy” made a bargain of more than 3 billion NGN (about 7 million USD) from the Nigerian box office in the first six months of 2019. This was then followed by “King of Boys”, which grossed NGN 200 million (approximately US$470,000) in movie ticket sales in the seventh week after its release in October 2018 before selling the streaming rights to Netflix in 2020, reports Nairametrics, a Nigerian online financial information portal.
“The Wedding Party”
The plot of director Kemi Adetiba’s “The Wedding Party” revolves around Dunni Coker (Adesua Etomi), a 24-year-old art gallery owner and her parents’ only child who is set to marry an IT entrepreneur, Dozie (Olubankole Wellington, popularly known by her stage name Banky W), The love of his life. The couple have taken a vow of chastity and are looking forward to their first night together as a married couple.
This movie broke the glass ceiling, so to speak, for Nollywood movies in international popular culture. The production, script and comedy captured the spirit of the younger generation and won wide acclaim.
This film elegantly amplifies Nigeria’s “rich culture (food, music, clothing)” through varied yet complex “themes and scenes.” affirms Wilson Morales, film critic of the online portal Black Film. In addition, the endless clashes “of the wedding dress, the guests (and not invited), the choice of food, who walks first and an overworked wedding planner begin to weigh not only on the bride and groom” were presented in an “entertaining and fun” way, says Morales.
“Chief Daddy” is the third Nollywood film in Nigerian film history to cross the NGN 300 million mark and is the third most successful Nollywood film of all time. The plot revolves around the life of Chief Beecroft, a wealthy and generous industrialist known as “Chief Daddy”, who helps everyone around him, including his immediate and extended family, staff, and mistresses. He dies early in the film, leaving his family members to fight over a share of his estate. The focus on wealth rather than mourning became an issue as Chief Daddy’s greatest wish was to bring the family together to plan his funeral, thus forcing them to come to terms.
With its top-notch ensemble cast, the film was both heartfelt and hilarious. It was great to see Kate Henshaw, Funke Akindele, Nkem Owo, and other Nollywood actors and actresses together in this black comedy. The cast of the film was extremely diverse: Joke Silva played the lead role and the head dad’s wife extremely well. Ọmọ́níkẹ̀ẹ́ Adéòtía Nigerian film critic, claims that this film present “the beauty and extravagance of Nigerian high society. Depending on the audience, this could be seen as a hedonistic portrayal of our people or a celebration of our lives. Unlike some simplistic and romanticized stories in older Nigerian films, this film shows both the good and bad sides of Nigerian culture through the use of comedy, highlighting the evolution of the industry.
“King of the Boys”
The movie “King of Boys” starred Alhaja Eniola Salami (Sola Sobowale), a businesswoman and philanthropist with a promising political future. Due to her growing political ambitions, she is drawn into a power struggle, which threatens everything around her. As she fights for her future, she doesn’t know who her allies are and who to trust, which drives her down a harsh and unforgiving path.
The movie “King of Boys” is very popular in Nigeria. According to Nigeria Travel Digest, an online news portal, “King of Boys” has been listed as one of the top 10 movies from 2018. The film takes a strong stance in demonstrating how corruption can affect every aspect of society and how politicians will always need the underworld to do their dirty work. What some Nigerians love the most is how it demonstrates the daily challenges and political difficulties present in Nigerian society in a truthful and nuanced manner. It also sheds light on possible solutions to current social problems.
Kemi Adetiba did a great job on “Wedding Party” and joined the “King of Boys” team to create something even bigger. Adetiba affirmed his creativity in “scenes filled with intense dialogue, thought-provoking decisions from the main characters and portraying the main protagonist in a way we have yet to see in Nigerian cinema,” Remarks Ayo Onikoyi, a Nigerian journalist. This film also showed that Nollywood can also produce quality crime and action films, which it had struggled with in the past.
Nollywood has evolved at a rapid pace and brought African cinema into the limelight. He showed people what Africans are capable of when it comes to making films. Nigerian media researchers Israel Udomisor and Opara Anayo pointed out that the excellent combination of “artistic displays and exceptional performances” with “film content, quality and originality” has expanded the storylines of Nigerian films. Scholars also insist that it has elevated the “industry into the arena of film festivals and viewership,” expanding the boundaries of Nollywood films to global audiences. Previously, scripts for Nollywood movies followed repetitive and mundane patterns and mostly revolved around the same themes such as love, discord within the royal family, etc.
The growth of Nollywood also clearly shows that Europeans or Americans are not the only ones capable of making successful films. When comparing the production of ‘Chief Daddy’, ‘Wedding Party’, ‘King of Boys’ and other old Nollywood movies, the difference is stark, indicating that Nollywood movie producers have made significant progress in recent decades.