West Africa’s leading film production and distribution company, FilmOne Entertainment, has, through its media channels, revealed the role of its production collaborations in the successful recovery of the Nigerian box office in 2021, amongst other insights.
The company was involved in six out of the ten highest-grossing production collaborations of 2021, with films such as The Ghost and The Tout Too, Prophetess, Aki and Pawpaw and My Village People, making conspicuous positions on the list of top ten highest-grossing releases of the year. Generally, the company’s investment in co-productions accounted for 35% of box office revenues between 2020 and 2021.
Since its inception, FilmOne’s production arm has been involved in the making of blockbusters such as The Wedding Party 1&2, Sugar Rush, and Merry Men 1&2, to mention a few. This year, the company has announced its first slate of original feature films to include The Battle on Mama Put Hill and Aba Blues while as TV series contents, it will be making Raising 6, The Miseducation of Mimi, Hidden Pains and London Blue, amongst others.
Speaking about the slate, Head of Production, Mimi Bartels was enthusiastic, saying “I’m excited about this opportunity to bring to the big screen, as well as other platforms, the amazing stories that we have spent so much time developing. Our focus in 2022 is to produce authentic local content for global consumption, which would be key in positioning Nollywood as the solid source for stories that make a cross-cultural impact.”
In late 2019, the company signed a pact with international partners Huahua Media (China) and Empire Entertainment (South Africa) to create the first West African Film Fund (WAFF), a one-million-dollar pool to sponsor the production of Nollywood films. Films such as Quam’s Money, Dwindle, Lockdown and Sanitation Day, were produced via this fund.
Co-founder of Filmhouse Group and managing director of FilmOne Entertainment, Moses Babatope, shared a visionary perspective on Nollywood’s film production, saying “We have come a long way in terms of aligning Nollywood with international standards on production quality, though there is room for improvement. What we are currently striving to achieve is taking it to the next level where the global audience would resonate with our stories, which would be certain when our films not only make global streaming charts but successfully open in many other theatrical markets, boosting the lifetime value of contents.”
The distribution arm of FilmOne Entertainment also played a key role in 2021’s performance, distributing 76 out of the 214 films released theatrically in the year (34%), which accounted for 76% of the year’s box office revenue, according to data company – COMSCORE. Prominent amongst these releases is Spiderman: No Way Home, which is currently Nigeria’s second highest-grossing film of all time, having made a whopping N660 million ($1.6 million) in four weeks. It would be recalled that the Nigerian cinema industry was almost fizzled by the impact of the pandemic in 2020, losing six months to a lockdown and barely realizing N2.1 billion ($5.1 million, 30% of its revenue in the previous year).
However, the year 2021 began with a spillover of Nollywood’s highest-grossing movie of all time, and Africa’s highest-grossing movie of 2020, Omo Ghetto: The Saga (distributed by FilmOne Entertainment), which realised 60% of its lifetime box office revenue in the year and provided a springboard for an exceptional performance of the Nigerian box office, despite odds such as precautionary measures and seating capacity restrictions necessitated by the pandemic.
Ladun Awobokun, Head of Distribution, spoke excitingly about the company’s achievements. “We anticipated a great performance for our titles at the beginning of the year and strategized to bring our expectations to fruition, nonetheless, what we have achieved is mind-blowing. Having to lead supply of premium content in both theatrical and digital platforms for the West Africa market in 2021, would have been impossible without the great relationship we have with our partners, and I would love to appreciate them all for helping us achieve such a great feat,” she said.
FilmOne Entertainment is currently the exclusive distribution partner to major Hollywood studios for the Anglophone West African territory; Walt Disney, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures and other Hollywood studios and independents (through its sub-distribution partnership with Empire Entertainment). It is also a major aggregator to Netflix and several other streaming platforms. Through its production and distribution arms, FilmOne Entertainment commits to supplying premium content to both theatrical and digital platforms.