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Nollywood battles internet pirates as streaming booms

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Nigeria’s film industry, popularly known as Nollywood, is grappling with rising cases of internet piracy as streaming is booming.

‘Blood Sisters’, produced by Mo Abudu, premiered in May 2022 to rave reviews from movie fans, has since ranked number 9 on Netflix globally and attracted about 11.0 million hours of viewing.

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However, the movie, which is supposed to be exclusive to Netflix, has been uploaded on NetNaija, a free-to-air streaming platform notorious for movie piracy. It is not only Blood Sisters that is now streaming free on NetNaija, nearly all the Nigerian movies, including ‘King of Boys: Return of the King’ released on Netflix, have been uploaded on the piracy platform.

‘Blood Sisters’, ‘King of Boys: Return of the King’, and many other Nollywood productions are also being downloaded from 02Tvseries. As of May 15, the platform has recorded 51,533 views for ‘Blood Sisters’.

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BusinessDay’s visit to NetNaija also shows that ‘Blood Sisters’ is one of the trending Nollywood movies and has the most comments on the platform. Other streaming platforms where Nigerians download new movies include Moviesjoy.to, Fzmovies, Tfpdl, and Topnow.se. YouTube also houses many pirated movies but ‘Blood Sisters’ and other Nollywood titles are yet to find their way on the Google-owned platform.

“Filmmakers are not making enough money here. So to see them lose money to piracy is painful. My fight is not with the people who can’t afford Netflix subs. But at those making money off piracy,” said Dika Ofoma, communications officer at TNC Africa, a film and TV production company.

Ofoma sees NetNaija as a piracy platform that is providing people’s hard work illegally to their audience and making money off it.

“That’s criminal,” he said.

According to data from GIPC and NERA Economic Consulting, the global movie industry’s revenue losses from digital piracy are between $40 and $97.1 billion per year.

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Online piracy thrives because of huge demand. Apart from patrons who are trying to avoid paying for monthly subscriptions on platforms like Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, others say platforms like NetNaija are necessary to bridge the gap between those who can afford internet data and those not able to afford data. Almost all the piracy platforms enable users to download the movies and watch offline, whereas Netflix allows subscribers to download but they can’t watch outside the app.

NetNaija told BusinessDay on Sunday that its mission is to provide information and entertainment for its users. It would not, however, comment on allegations it was pirating other people’s work or how it makes money, given that it offers its services for free.

It is estimated that pirated video material gets over 230 billion views a year. More than 80 percent of global online piracy can be attributed to illegal streaming services.

Experts predict that the global online TV and movie industry will continue to lose revenue in the future. According to online piracy statistics, the movie and TV industry will lose $51.6 billion to online piracy by 2022.

The streaming service industry has transformed the movie industry in Nigeria and around the world. Streaming has not only made it convenient for people to watch their favourite movies and TV shows, it has boosted the income of practitioners in the industry.

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Streaming has become so popular that many streaming services now have their own studios where they can produce their content. A Business Insider article reports that in 2019, Netflix alone released 371 movies and TV shows. In 2021, Netflix was again in the lead with 39 percent of original content being released from their studio, with HBO Max just behind them at 37 percent.

While Africa houses more than 1 billion people, a report claims it has less than 5 million subscription video-on-demand users. Millennials are also more likely to find piracy normal.

Ofoma says to curb piracy, it could be better to consider going through the cinemas in terms of distribution for films.

“If cinemas are people’s (first) locations and tickets are affordable, I think that will discourage illegal downloads,” he said.

He, however, acknowledges that the growing level of poverty makes it more complicated as there are more poor people who cannot afford cinema tickets or the cost of subscription for SVODs like Netflix. Monthly subscription for Netflix ranges from N1,200 for mobile-only, N2,900 for basic to N4,400 for premium subscribers. HBO Max subscription cost N5,900 and the average cinema ticket cost N1500.

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“But I do believe that if the films are available to them and affordable, piracy sites would become less of an option for them. And that will help curb the activities of piracy sites,” he said.

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Ivie: Opa Williams returns big with movie against rape

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The veteran producer, Opa Williams, is back with a refreshing movie, Ivie, which he intends to use as a tool to fight against rape.

And this is coming after a hugely successful 3 Wise Men, a 2016 Nigerian comedy drama film, he produced and directed directed by Pat Ogbere Imobhio.

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Ivie shot few months ago and also directed by Oghere will hit the cinemas on September 30th and already movie buffs are predicting a major outing for the production.

IVIE – Synopsis

A 12 year old student, Ivie, must come out to save her mum, Enado (who has been abandoned by husband) and her 13year old sister, Isoken, a rape victim from the claws of Sanko.

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For shame of stigma, fear of betrayal and economic inadequacy, Enado is unable to confront a terror, fearless hardhearted rapist named Sanko.

Ivie believes, in her little world, that the society should be polite to its citizens, and despite a corruption, culprits should be made answerable for their actions.

Can Ivie take on the all powerful and ruthless Sanko who has raped her sister and been a threat to mum singularly?

“The movie will do two things. It would entertain and also pass a strong message to the society on the evil of rape,” Williams disclosed.

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Collision Course: Excitement grows as Netflix debut approaches

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As its Friday September 1, 2020 Premiere date on Netflix approaches, excitement and anticipation are building up around Collision Course, the hard-hitting film by Bolanle Austen-Peters.

Last Saturday August 20 highlighted how much the movie is well-anticipated when actors and crew members on the film as well as select guests gathered in Lagos for a private viewing of the movie, which explores the impact of rogue law enforcement officers on Nigerian society and how their unenviable harsh personal lives is sometimes a factor in their official duties. inspired by the October 2020 anti-police brutality protests in Lagos, Abuja and many other cities in southern Nigeria, the film has only been shown to a privileged few last November when it premiered as the closing film at the All Africa Film Festival (AFRIFF), which held at Landmark event centre in Lagos.

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Echos of Year 2020’s #endsars protests reverberates through Collision Course as a reminder on how many Nigerian youths took to the streets to demand an end to what they called endemic police brutality. The protests, especially in Lagos, ended on a brutal and tragic note when armed soldiers reportedly opened fire on unarmed protesters on the night of October 20 2020.

Saturday’s special private screening brought back the import of the 75-minute film as a topical, intensely-detailed and well-acted film about a police officer struggling to make ends meet and his encounter with an aspiring musician whose worlds collide.

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Brilliantly played by Kelechi Udegbe, the police officer sets up a roadblock to extract gratification from drivers as troubles at home grew, only to encounter the frustrated young artist with a pregnant wife.

After accidentally shooting dead the musician, the plot sets in motion a chain of events that leads to emotional trauma, arrest and a note-worthy commentary on the state of affairs within the police force.

One of the guests at the screening, Catherine Bickersteth, an educationist and development leader, said the film’s director deserves an applause “for crafting a great production about an important social issue so brilliantly.

Collision Course is an indelible film on several levels:

The storyline: topical and emotive but balanced.
The script: delivered the multilayered messages in succinct language freely and smoothly flowing from good grammar to pidgin English and local dialect.
The Acting: superbly evoked both visceral and intellectual reactions from unforgettably skilled characterization.
The locations: perfectly enhanced the narrative. For local viewers because the locations were not made-up sets, they emphasised the reality of the lives the characters were portraying.
The music: heightened the rollercoaster of emotions of the film.

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Austen-Peters, who personally picked the Best Film (West-Africa) award for the film at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) earlier this year, said Collision Course seeks to show some of the underlying issues that forces someone to turn against the very same people he swore to defend.

“I found out that every single person in the story had a back story that we all needed to understand, and at the end of this when you watch this movie you begin to understand that we are all victims, we are all brutalized by the system that we live in,” she said.

Aside its AMVCA award, Collision Course also earned Udegbe the Best Actor award at last year’s AFRIFF and picked two out of the four it was nominated for at the last African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).

The film hits Netflix for global streaming on September 2, 2022.

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Sola Sobowale tears up over huge announcement, lands first Bollywood role

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The Nigerian movie industry is no doubt soaring higher daily and one can’t help but be proud of the actors and actresses.

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One of Nollywood’s most sought-after actress, Sola Sobowale is going international.

The “King of Boys” actress made a special announcement on her Instagram page recently.

Sola revealed that she would be going to India to join record-breaking Director, Hamisha Daryani Ahuja for her latest project.

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Sobowale also said that she would be surely going to India to film and she would be playing a very dynamic role in the project.

“I am so excited to announce that I will be working with record breaking Director/Exec Producer @HamishaDaryaniAhujaon her upcoming project! And….get this…we will be going to India to film! I will be playing a very dynamic role in this project and cannot wait for you to watch it”.

Sola Sobowale had held a special thanksgiving at the St Peter’s African Church, Lagos where she danced like the Biblical David to honour God for being so good and kind to her. It was reported that the veteran actress and King of Boys star, Sola Sobowale showed up in a wine and white lace mix with wine headgear.

After dancing with joy, Sola Sobowale went on her kneels at the altar and received special prayers from the clergies.

Sharing photos from the special thanksgiving on her page, Sola Sobowale wrote “We thank God for all his mercies. ALLELUIA! Thanksgiving Sunday… May all our thanksgivings be accepted in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.”

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