The Nigerian film industry is facing a serious financial shock with cinemas shut and productions halted. I consider some of the implications of the COVID- 19 pandemic on Nollywood
With cinemas closed, the Nigerian cinema industry is likely to lose about 2.1 billion naira in ticket sales from March-June as cinema goers stay home, based on equivalent figures from 2019. Closed cinema doors means mass layoff of cinema staff, with even more service staff affected indirectly.
On Post Lock-down Cinema Attendances
For most industry insiders, it remains to be seen how comfortable consumers will be sitting together in cinemas even when the lock-down is lifted. Cinema houses will need to maintain strict codes of public hygiene. However, I’m punting that Nigerian cinema goers will have no problems returning to the cinemas.
The mandatory lock-downs have pushed television audience numbers up, with both cable and streaming platforms seeing higher subscriptions. Netflix, for example, reported nearly 16 million new subscribers in the first quarter.
They have managed to keep up with the new demand by updating their libraries across the territories. This temporarily solves the problem of content shortages that smaller platforms may struggle with in this lock-down. Apart from the ability to acquire content, platforms already have projects already slated for the
rest of the year. This presents advantages to producers with content they haven’t sold yet, as platforms must combat future content shortages.
The lock-down has halted this year’s production slate. This situation puts Nollywood at serious risk of a collapse, with over 1 million jobs in the sector affected. The timing of the lock-down has hit the industry particularly hard given that most productions happen within this period. The worst hit will be the crews across the country working below the line.
As gloomy as this peculiar situation looks, I expect Nollywood to bounce back even stronger, with platforms consistently looking for content, and numerous films and TV shows currently in development.
Here’s asking that we treat ourselves with love and compassion this season. Stay safe.