By Franklin Ugobude
15 May 2022 |
About a year ago, news headlines bore the news that Funke Akindele-Bello’s “Omo Ghetto: The Saga” had become the highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time. According to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the 2020 comedy film grossed over N636 million, ending the four-year record by Kemi Adetiba’s 2016 film “The Wedding Party”…
About a year ago, news headlines bore the news that Funke Akindele-Bello’s “Omo Ghetto: The Saga” had become the highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time. According to the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the 2020 comedy film grossed over N636 million, ending the four-year record by Kemi Adetiba’s 2016 film “The Wedding Party” with N453 million. “Omo Ghetto: The Saga” is a follow-up to the 2010 film “Omo Ghetto”, and it chronicles the turbulent life of Lefty (Funke Akindele), who is torn between her adopted mother’s wealthy existence and her ghetto lifestyle, which she finds most natural. Chioma Akpotha, Tina Mba, Zubby Michael, Adebayo Salami, and a slew of other actors appear in the comedy.
This announcement was a little surprising because it came during the coronavirus pandemic, which affected the film business as well as other industries. To combat the raging pandemic in Nigeria, theatres were closed in March of that same year. They reopened six months later, but this time with further issues: a 50% hall seat capacity and a wary audience that was hesitant to visit the theatres.
This may have contributed to the poor 31-day income figures, particularly in December, when Nollywood films were in high demand. However, tickets for “Omo Ghetto: The Saga” were quickly selling out, and some theatres across the country adjusted showtimes for other films to accommodate the throngs of people eager to watch Akindele’s comedy. It might be the film’s unique marketing strategies or simply the fact that it was comedy done correctly, with a blend of gloss and gaudiness. In any case, everyone was pleased with this picture, and it has done well on Netflix, where you can view it now. Keep in mind that Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984” was also in theatres at the time.
“The Wedding Party” (directed by Kemi Adetiba) and The Wedding Party 2 (directed by Niyi Akinmolayan) now claim the second and third spots, respectively, with “Omo Ghetto: The Saga” as the highest-grossing film. EbonyLife Productions (“Chief Daddy”, “Your Excellency”), AY’s Corporate World Entertainment (“Merry Men”, “Merry Men 2”, “A Trip to Jamaica”), and Kemi Adetiba’s “King of Boys” round out the rest of the list.
A glance at this list reveals one thing: Comedies seem to be the mainstay of Nollywood, and while people would refer to them as sloppy, cliche and not necessarily funny, they seem to be doing well at the box office.
Most times, in conversations with cinema-goers, film critics and even people working in the industry, the common blame is placed on the audience. The common pushback is that the audience does not appreciate films that are not comedies and would rather spend their money watching a romantic comedy, or an action comedy film. Some films lend credence to this. In 2016, Steve Gukas directed “93 Days”, a film about the Ebola crisis in Nigeria and how the late Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh played a key role in the containment of the disease in the country. Despite the good performances, brilliant cinematography and excellent storytelling, it tanked badly in the cinemas and only saw a new life when it was debuted on the streaming platform, Netflix. There are other instances of films like this.
Nonetheless, there are also non-comedic films that have gone on to do well in the cinema and amass a profit. The list includes films like “Kings of Boys”, “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free” and more recently, “King of Thieves”. These films give us an insight that indeed, there is an audience interested in other genres of film and they’re smart enough.
So what is it going to be? Are we going to keep doing comedies?