For starters, hype is to promote or publicize a movie (in this context) intensively, often exaggerating its benefits.
Recently, a friend asked, "the hype around "The Arbitration" is too much. Is the movie worth it?" The question raised a question and argument "what sells a Nigerian movie? The hype or a good story?'
Did you know the first week of a movie's cinema release is considered to be the most important? It decides the length of time a movie gets to spend in the cinema and its scheduling.
A successful opening gives rise to an awareness of the movie among consumers, especially in Nigeria where movie-goers depend on 'word of mouth,' reviews, and the hype surrounding a movie, to decide if it's worth seeing or not.
For the above-mentioned reasons, most filmmakers pay a lot of attention to pre-release hype. But how much effect does hype have on a movie? An intensive and extensive promotion of a movie would give a movie a successful 1st-week theatrical outing. A horrible plot/story will kick it out after its two 'successful weeks.'
Following the release of a film, a positive review attracts viewers who did not see it in the opening week, while negative reviews deter likely viewers. Reviews play an important role in the opening success of films. Most filmmakers have carried out heavy pre-release campaigns, creating a lot of buzz/hype, only to have their movies receive negative critical reviews which affect the movie's performance. A recent example being Kunle Afolayan's "The CEO," which is probably doing well in cinemas, but could have done much better save the negative reviews it received.
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There have been lots of brilliant movies, which were not favored in cinema, simply because there was no hype surrounding it - nobody knew about them. They simply found their way in and were kicked out with a '10:pm" time schedule after they failed to do well (who sees a movie by that time.)
"Wives on Strike," "The Arbitration," "Fifty" among others, did well in the cinema because of their pre-release publicity and entertaining story. The hype got the attention, the story kept the buzz alive and had people talking conversing about it on various social media platforms, thus creating more awareness.
Biyi Bandele's "Fifty" had a four-month cinema run in Nigeria. There have been better movies than "Fifty," but they failed to do half of what "Fifty" did. The movie not only created a pre-release buzz, they also encouraged a post-release hype by engaging the audience through their various social media campaigns, and 'meet and greet' featuring the likes of Banky W.
They also ran a competition that gave millions of opportunities to win prizes including a trip to Mauritius, Kenya, London, Dubai, a brand new Mercedes Benz B class among others. They probably spent a lot of money on promotion, but they also had a lot of confidence in their story, cast, and quality. They knew that all they needed was extra hard work and that 'hype.'
Omoni Oboli didn't have to run competitions. The cast of the movie only had to visit various states including Ondo, Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Benin, Warri and Port Harcourt to meet their fans, convince them to see the movie, sell tickets, and see the movie with them.
Personally, I don't think 'meet and greet' would work for every movie. You could be a talented actor, handsome, beautiful and all, but there has to be something 'special' about you for people to really want to 'meet and greet' you. The result of a 'meet and greet' with a Genevieve Nnaji is obviously not going to be same with a meet and greet with a C, D or E class actor. Who are you? Who knows you? Not to focus on 'Meet and Greet,' there are different ways in this social media era to hype a good or bad movie, to engage the viewers.
Thanks to the hype phenomenon, viewers end up seeing bad and good films in the opening week since they have been exposed to an advertising which focuses on positives, and always portrays a movie as the best thing to happen since Jollof Rice. But what happens after a successful first week? Does that make your movie a great one? Does that make one a successful filmmaker?
After its first week, there's always a change, as the hype surrounding high-quality film increases or that of a low-quality film diminishes, because then, the word of mouth and critical reviews have set in to influence the decision of movie-goers (unless your movie is "30 Days in Atlanta.")
The upcoming movie "The Wedding Party" is, without a doubt, going to have an outstanding first-weekend box office outing, considering the promotional materials that have been seeded in the media since the film was first announced. Let us not also forget that it features talented veterans, new actors, and it is a comedy movie.
At the end of the day, hype and good stories are needed to keep Nollywood alive.