• As the year rounds up, Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa takes a look at box office returns.
  • Below is a list of the five highest-earning movies of the year.

2018 was a great time for Nollywood with movies with "Chief Daddy," "King of Boys," and "Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons" killing it at the box office.

Things have been different this year. Box office numbers for Nollywood films were depressing for most of the year until the release of "Bling Lagosians" on June 16, 2019.

Months later, Nollywood had its biggest box office win for the year when "Living in Bondage: Breaking Free" which opened with N25.8 million. Box office returns have only gotten better since then.

Check out the top five highest-grossing Nollywood films of 2019:

  • Living in Bondage: Breaking Free - N157.3 million 

After acquiring the rights to Living In Bondage from writer Kenneth Nnebue back in 2015, the highly anticipated sequel to the 1992 blockbuster finally came out in November 2019.

Continuing the original story of Andy Okeke through his son, Nnamdi Okeke as he follows his father’s questionable path to riches, the movie quickly pulled N25.8 million within its first two days in Nigerian theatres.

Figures from the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) showed that the 2019 sequel displaced movies from huge foreign studios like Fox, Disney and Sony.

It also marked the biggest opening weekend and the highest opening for a non-comedy film for Nollywood this year, a record formerly held by Kemi Adetiba’s 2018 “King of Boys.”

Within seven days (November 8–14th), the 2019 sequel made a total of N48.6 million and an extra N24 million by its second weekend (November 15–17th).

After spending three weeks in cinemas, this 2019 sequel grossed a total of N103.7 million and officially became one of the highest-grossing Nigerian movies of all time. It has now earned N157.3 million.

Top 20 films 29th November - 1st December 2019 (ceanigeria)
Top 20 films 29th November - 1st December 2019 (ceanigeria)

Produced by Charles Okpaleke and directed by Ramsey Nouah, it featured some of the original cast like Kenneth Okonkwo, Kanayo O. Kanayo and Bob-Manuel Udokwu.

New additions include Nouah, Enyinna Nwigwe, Nancy Isime, Munachi Abii and Swanky JKA, who was only three months old when the first movie came out.

  • Merry Men 2: Another Mission - N128 million

Ayo ‘AY’ Makun’s "Merry Men 2: Another Mission" opened in theatres on December 20, 2019. Within its first weekend (December 20-22, 2019), the movie made N36.89 million.

Now showing for its second week, the movie has made a total of N128 million, making "Merry Men 2" the second highest-earning movie of 2019.

Kenya (played by Regina Daniels) dealing with one of the Merry Men, Naz Okigbo (played by Jim Iyke) on the set of 'Merry Men 2', [Instagram/regina.daniels]
Kenya (played by Regina Daniels) dealing with one of the Merry Men, Naz Okigbo (played by Jim Iyke) on the set of 'Merry Men 2', [Instagram/regina.daniels]

The sequel continues the original story started in the 2018 "Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons." Ayo, Naz, Amaju and Remi, the charming foursome known as the Merry Men, meet their match in some ladies determined to make them pay for their atrocities.

Directed by Toka McBaror and produced by AY, the movie features Ramsey Nouah, Jim Iyke, Falz, Williams Uchemba, Regina Daniels, Big Brother Naija’s Alex Unusual, Nancy Isime, Iretiola Doyle, and Damilola Adegbite.

  • Bling Lagosians - N120 million

Bolanle Austen-Peters' directorial debut premiered on June 16, 2019. It topped the box office during the last weekend of June by earning N23 million from 45 cinemas across the country. So far, the movie has grossed over N120 million.

The Bling Lagosians [Instagram/The Bling Lagosians]
The Bling Lagosians [Instagram/The Bling Lagosians]

"Bling Lagosians" follows an affluent, flamboyant, over the top family, the Holloways, living in Lagos. Despite not being as wealthy as they used to be, the family struggles to hold on to their past glory even if it means living in debt.

The movie features Nollywood stars like Mona Lisa Chinda, Jide Kosoko, Gbenga Titiloye, Elvina Ibru, Helen Paul, Osas Ighodaro Ajibade, Alex Ekubo, Toyin Abraham and former BBNaija housemates, Bisola and Bambam.

ALSO READ: ‘The Bling Lagosians’ is a much better film than you think it is

  • Your Excellency - N105.5 million

EbonyLife Films’ "Your Excellency" opened in over 50 theatres across the country on December 13, 2019. Within its first two days, Funke Akindele-Bello’s directorial debut earned N15.7 million.

By the second week in cinemas (December 20th-26th), the movie earned an additional N45 million.

Top 20 films 20th-22nd December 2019 (ceanigeria)
Top 20 films 20th-22nd December 2019 (ceanigeria)

So far, it has grossed N105.5 million despite only showing for three weeks.

The political comedy tells the story of Chief Olalekan Ajadi, a bumbling, billionaire businessman and failed presidential candidate, who is obsessed with Donald Trump. He becomes a credible contender through the power of social media.

The film stars Funke Akindele and Akin Lewis in leading roles who are supported by Shaffy Bello, Bimbo Manuel, Toni Tones, Chigurl, Christian Paul, Beverly Osu, Helen Paul, Osas Ighadaro, Kemi Lala Akindoju and Ikechukwu Onunaku.

  • Sugar Rush - N58.76 million

Sugar Rush was released on Wednesday, December 25, 2019. It quickly made over N40 million in its first weekend. So far, it has earned N58.76 million. The star-studded movie is now 27th highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time.

Produced by Jade and directed by Kayode Kasum, this movie follows three young ladies who stumble across $800,000 (N288.8 million) and decided to spend it all. They later have to deal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and criminals after the money.

The comedy features Adesua Etomi-Wellington, Omoni Oboli, Mawuli Gavour, Banky W, Adedimeji Lateef, Uzor Arukwe, BBNaija’s Bisola Aiyeola and Tobi Bakre.