The commercial flop of "93 Days" and the 2016 box office record show that Nigerians are not ready for the 'quality movies' they so much clamour for.
The Steve Gukas movie about the bravery of the late Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh and her colleagues to stop the spread of the disease in the country made its debut in Nigeria cinemas on September 16, 2016, and after weeks in the cinema, it grossed just ₦19.9 million for a film that cost 400 million naira to make.
On September 30, 2016, AY Makun's "A Trip to Jamaica" made its debut in cinemas, and grossed over 80 million naira in 10 days. Omoni Oboli's'Wives on Strike" premiered on April 8, 2016, and grossed over 15 million Naira in just three days. "The Wedding Party" grossed N36m in its opening weekend in cinemas across Nigeria.
The above-mentioned movies are all comedy movies. No other genre in 2016 broke a box office record. The 2016 box office record questions the constant demand for quality movies by Nigerians, as the year had offered those quality movies, but none of them 'broke the records.'
Despite the 'plea' for quality over quantity, Nigeria is not a healthy market for genres that are not comedy as Nigerians are not ready to embrace diverse genres. Most cinema goers who patronize Nollywood movies are more interested in comedies, probably for the escape it provides.
This is not in anyway aimed at undermining the effort put into making these comedy movies, but, "93 Days" is a well-made movie which possessed every factor needed to break box office records. While there are good comedy films, there are also good films that belong to other genres. Unfortunately, Nigerians are not ready for them.
ALSO READ: THE NOLLYWOOD NOBODY WANTS IN 2017 [OPINION]
"93 Days" had all the features of a blockbuster. A starry cast, rave reviews in Nigeria and during its various festival screenings. Yet, the movie struggled and failed to be a profitable one.
The movie isn't the only high budget movie which failed to be a commercial success in 2016. As at October, Kunle Afolayan's "The CEO" which cost 600 million naira to make, had grossed just 60 million. In an interview, the filmmaker revealed his fears of not being able to repay the bank loan he took to shoot the movie.
Despite the flops of historical and what could be described as intellectually stimulating movies, comedy, superhero movies and action thrillers ruled the Nigeria box office in 2016.
The two highest grossing movies of 2016 were "The Wedding Party" with 203 million and "A Trip to Jamaica" with N178.5 million. On the top 10 list, Hollywood superhero movies brought in an estimate of 600 million naira, while Hollywood action thrillers grossed an estimate of 165 million naira. Fantasy drama "Gods of Egypt" grossed 80 million naira, while the critically acclaimed historical drama "76" took the 10th spot with 72 million.
ALSO READ: TOP 5 DIRECTORS OF 2016
While comedy movies such as "Wives on Strike," "Ghana Must Go," "The Wedding Party," "Dinner," "It's Her Day," "A Trip to Jamaica" did considerably well at the box office, movies like "The Arbitration," "Oloibiri," "The CEO," "93 Days," "76" failed to take the lead.
Gukas who directed "93 Days" had once publicly shared his fears of Nigeria becoming a comic nation. "We run the risk of becoming a only comic nation," the filmmaker said at the Nolly Thursday screening of the movie. "Nigeria needs to show love to diverse genres of films," he added.
Comedy movies are loved by fans and investors alike, and every year there are guaranteed to be more, with the likes of "Lost in London," "Okafor's Law," "American Driver" set to debut n 2017.
As Nollywood’s comedy genre race continues, with most investors investing in comedies, other genres have largely fallen by the wayside.
In a conversation with a top investor in Nollywood, the movie "Ayanda" which starred OC Ukeje was described as an unprofitable cinema movie. According to this investor, the movie lacked what it takes to appeal to the Nigerian audience, as Ukeje alone couldn't sell the movie. "Ayanda" is a quality movie - the type of quality which most Nigerians constantly claim to need. But when it found its way to the cinemas, quality suddenly wasn't the ultimate need.
Perhaps Nollywood overestimates the public’s interest in significant, intellectual or historical films. Considering the success of comedy movies, it is safe to assume that if the filmmakers had found a way to include comedy in some of those poignant moments, maybe, just maybe, the movies would have been accepted by Nigerians.
An average Nigeria would pick a comedy movie over a cerebral movie. Further compounding issues of "93 Days" is the fact that the movie debuted at a time when it had fierce competition. It debuted when "It's Her Day" was still going strong in cinemas. "Magnificent Seven," Mechanic Resurrection," "Suicide Squad," are all more appealing to the Nigerian crowd. Two weeks after it made its debut, "A Trip to Jamaica" made its debut, and it was at that moment that "93 Days" lost.
"93 Days" is a well-made movie which shouldn't for any reason gross just 19.9million naira. It's only crimes could be being a biopic, and opening when there were almost too many choices for the Nigerian audience.
Whatever the reasons for the commercial flop of "93 Days" are, it is very obvious that Nigerians are not ready for the quality they so much clamour for. Nigerians are also not ready for diverse genres. And these facts are enough to bother any filmmaker who is interested in making profit in Nollywood.