During one of those breaks between DStv programs, I recently watched visuals of Black Panther now made available on DStv BoxOffice, the cable’s online movie rental service. “Welcome to Wakanda,” the ominously deep male voice said at the end of the ad. It’s been several months since the Ryan Coogler blockbuster made a cultural splash, breaking records and bagging awards, and now DStv BoxOffice is peddling the movie to us in a rich cake of nostalgia.
Since 2014, the rental service allows anyone in Nigeria to rent and watch the latest movies from the comfort of their homes, via the Explora decoder or on any video streaming device with broadband access. But going by Black Panther, I can’t really classify it as “latest.” Because I’m not a user of the service, I went on the DStv BoxOffice website and browsed through its library.
Interestingly, I saw Acrimony, the Tyler Perry psychological thriller that caused so much cultural debate in the past week, John Boyega’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, and a slew of Oscar-nominated movies like Lady Bird, Phantom Thread and The Shape of Water. It was only when I exited the website that I realised that I didn’t come across a Nollywood movie.
DStv BoxOffice doesn’t exactly have a box office seal of freshness, as new movie releases take a while to be added to its rental library. Essentially, the service isn’t much of an attractive option, for me at least. Which brings me to moviegoing, and the cultural impulse to consume a variety of movies with a high gloss. As much as I cherish the singular act of taking myself to the theater every now and then, I would also like to see an upgraded, adjacent service like DStv BoxOffice.
Watching movies at home can have its peculiar pleasures, and I have been thinking about MoviePass, an American subscription-based movie ticketing service founded in 2011 as MoviePass Inc. The service allows subscribers to purchase a single movie ticket per day for a flat subscription fee per month, quarter or year. And the movies are box office fresh.
Sadly though, the MoviePass service isn’t available in Nigeria. And even though cinema culture lubricates the wheels of the Nigerian box office, along with concession stands brimming with popcorn and greasy hotdogs, there’s something subtly powerful at being able to sequester yourself in the familiar space of your apartment, with mint-fresh movies at your fingertips.