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What Funke Akindele’s ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ means for Nollywood

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‘A Tribe Called Judah’, Nollywood’s first N1 billion ($1.2 million) grossing film has not only reached the pinnacle of popularity domestically but also can transform Nollywood, reshaping business strategies and redefining filmmaking in Nigeria’s film industry.

Naz Onozu of Inkblot Studios after seeing the premier of ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ in Lagos, projected the movie to reach and surpass N1 billion. He wrote on his X handle “Breaking the record again is great but I’m rooting for you to be the first Nollywood film to cross 1 billion at the box office.” Onozu’s projection may have come to pass but certain industry professionals over the years have advocated for Nollywood films to achieve remarkable box office success.

Ojie Imoloame, of Impact Hub’s Creative Friday series, a platform delving into the nuances of the Nigerian creative sector, during a monthly forum in November 2022, said that the film industry must produce movies surpassing N1 billion in box office revenue to establish itself as a flourishing and credible business worth investing into.

More Cinemas

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When asked about how Nollywood has gotten to the point, Imoloame said that it has been a gradual process. He highlighted the necessity of establishing the right infrastructure like building more cinema locations over time to facilitate this achievement.

In Hollywood, box office returns for blockbuster films reach well into $1 billion and above and this is attributed to the number of screens in the US which is numbered 39,000 according to Hollywood Reporter.

With just a little above 80 cinemas in Nigeria, amidst the economic crunch, it will be difficult for films to crack $5 million domestically. For further context, Avengers: Endgame, which remains one of the top successes at the Nigerian box office, grossed just over N2 billion ($2.4 million) according to Box Office Mojo.

For Femi Odugbemi, a filmmaker and Head Judge at AMVCA, box office numbers are not solely about the filmmaker. Rather, it reflects the diverse audience engagement, indicating that the film resonates with various demographic groups. He said that the N1 billion achievement signifies that the movie has a universal appeal, creating opportunities for subsequent films and filmmakers.

Imoloame calls for more investment in infrastructure which includes opening more cinemas to boost admission numbers which leads to more revenue at the box office for future Nollywood films like A Tribe Called Judah.

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Focus on process

Odugbemi beckons on other filmmakers to emulate the process Funke Akindele took in making her film a blockbuster rather than recreating her style of film citing the case of the success of Ebony Life’s ‘Wedding Party’ in 2017.

“Remember when ‘Wedding Party’ was a success, rather than us understanding what it took to create that film, everybody started making what we call ‘Counterfeit Wedding Party’, but that happens where you focus only on the success and not the process. We need to individually as practitioners, be more creativity-led, not commercially led, that’s how we can reinvent Nollywood,” Odugbemi said.

More trained talents

Over the years, Nollywood has seen an influx of diverse talent in all aspects of the sector who have gotten their skills from film schools both at home and abroad. Imoloame underscored the significance of continuous training for emerging talents in Nollywood, encompassing areas such as acting, scriptwriting, and cinematography, contributing significantly to the industry’s current standing.

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“The Nollywood you see today was not the same way you saw 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. That is because younger people are coming, more trained people are coming and hopefully, people will be telling the stories that the audience will honour with their money and their presence,” Odugbemi said.

Continued investment locally and internationally

The transformative impact of the creative industry generating billions, particularly in music and now in film has heightened visibility, attracting substantial attention and investment from foreign companies.

Akoroko Africa on their X handle wrote “A Tribe Called Judah’s success puts a spotlight on not just commercial success, but also the evolving narrative in Nigerian cinema – an industry that is increasingly gaining international recognition.”

Imoloame also pointed out that surpassing the billion-earning mark is crucial for the industry’s recognition as a serious business. Imoloame anticipates that such financial milestones will garner increased attention from the government, similar to the support seen in the tech industry.

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Access to Analytic data

In expressing his sentiments, Odugbemi conveyed a keen interest in obtaining comprehensive analytics from those responsible for reporting sales in theatres. He emphasised the importance of acquiring a detailed breakdown of audience demographics.

This, he believes, would serve as a valuable opportunity to discern the preferences of viewers – understanding the types of films and stories that resonate with them, as well as their preferred venues for viewing. Odugbemi underscored the significance of such information not only for the benefit of filmmakers and producers but also as crucial insights for investors seeking to make informed decisions in the film industry.

“An investor will be encouraged to hear that there is a billion naira possible in income in the Nigerian film industry and be encouraged to confidently put his money and the more investors we can get, the more we can expand the economy of the industry,” Odugbemi said.

More Collaborations

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Insufficient attention is often given to the collaborative endeavours that significantly contribute to the success of Funke Akindele’s films. It is essential to recognise the impactful contributions of co-directors such as Adeoluwa Owu for ‘A Tribe Called Judah,’ Tobi Makinde for ‘Battle On Buka Street,’ and JJC Skillz for ‘OMO GHETTO: THE Saga’ in achieving success. This highlights the potential for powerhouse filmmakers to engage in future collaborations, fostering increased excitement and anticipation leading up to the release dates of their joint projects.

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Entertainment

Nollywood full of evil people – Angela Okorie

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Actress, Angela Okorie, has said that the country’s entertainment industry is filled with evil people.

Okorie, who has been having a running battle with her colleague, Zubby Michael, stated that she would soon reveal all that transpired between them.

In an interview with Saturday Beats, she said, “Zubby did me evil, and he has done it many times. I am going to spill it all soon, so that people can know. A lot of things have been happening in the industry, and if God should open your eyes to see them, you will be shocked. That is why I keep telling people to pray and ask God to open their eyes to see the things happening around them; so they can know who is with them and who is against them.

“We keep hearing of many people dying from one sickness or another. But, most of those sicknesses are actually not the kind that should kill people quickly. But in recent times, if someone mentions that they are sick, before long, they would have died.”

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Okorie added that she only depended on God for her protection. She said, “I am protected by God Almighty.”

She also stated that she was aware that some of the people around her who acted as friends had wicked intentions towards her. She said, “Recently, a lot has been happening, and God has been revealing a lot of evil people that have been around me for a long time. Mind you, I have been poisoned before, but because my mission on earth is not done, God won’t let them kill me. Nollywood is a place where people come to showcase their talents, but evil people have turned it to their coven. There are a lot of things that they are doing that are taking innocent lives.”

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Sydney Talker calls for support as singer Khaid battles illness

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Nigerian comedian and social media influencer Sydney Talker has urged support and prayers for the ailing singer, Khaid.

The young rapper was rushed to the hospital due to complications from internal bleeding.

Videos circulating online depicted the singer being transported into a hospital room, surrounded by medical staff.

Taking to the popular micro-blogging platform X, Sydney Talker reached out to his followers, appealing for prayers for Khaid‘s recovery.

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Despite not providing any specific updates on the singer’s condition, Sydney emphasized the importance of collective prayers.

“Let’s pray for Khaid. He needs our prayers right now,” Sydney tweeted.

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Davido launches Nine+ Records with UnitedMasters

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Grammy-nominee, David Adeleke popularly known as Davido, has partnered with a US distribution company, UnitedMasters, to launch a new label, Nine+ Records.

According to DMW label boss in an interview with Billboard, he aims to expand the label beyond Afrobeats to reach global audiences.

Davido also cited his passion for nurturing emerging talent and addressing the challenges of young artistes in the music industry as motivations for the partnership.

“Oh yeah, everything. R&B, trap, etc. Obviously, I am going to start in Africa, but I can see us going all the way,” he said.

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“There is one thing that I will always love, which is nurturing new talent…Sometimes, you do not have anybody to advise you on how to move and get good paperwork done.

“I just felt like that was one thing Steve Stoute represents, and that is helping the artistes and making sure they know the best option when it comes to business.”

The news of the partnership was also shared by United Masters via their official Instagram page in what they termed a “groundbreaking collaboration with Davido”.

In the press release, United Masters called the partnership transformative for the African music industry that will see one of the continent’s most influential figures propel the careers of emerging artists to unprecedented heights.

Although Nine+ Records has not yet unveiled any artistes, Steve Stoute, chief executive of UnitedMasters, disclosed that his inspiration for the label emerged during the 2023 UnitedMasters SelectCon, where he and Davido forged a connection.

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The music executive also emphasised his commitment to empowering Davido and the label’s future endeavors.

“We are here to bring that structure and funding so he can do what he has to do,” he said.

“If I can get him in the room with the producers and the artistes, and I can get it out the room, that is my job. To get in the room and to get out.”

Davido established DMW, his music label, in April 2016.

The label has served as home to music talents such as Mayorkun, Peruzzi, and Dremo.

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In March, Davido rebranded his label to DMW 2.0 and unveiled two new artistes — Morravey and Logos Olori.

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