On December 15, 2018, widely acclaimed movie star, Genevieve Nnaji announced the homecoming of her directorial debut, ‘Lionheart.’
The announcement came roughly 4 months after the movie was acquired by Netflix, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and screened at the Marrakech film festival in Morocco.
Also worthy of mentioning is Genevieve’s landmark deal signing with one of the largest talent agencies in the world, United Talent Agency.
Ms. Nnaji announced that ‘Lionheart’ will start screening in Nigeria on Friday, December 21, 2018.
But on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, an allegation was raised by film and art enthusiast, Ugoma Adegoke, on behalf of Genevieve over plans by cinema film distributors - particularly FilmOne - to sabotage the screening of the movie in Nigeria.
And with the allegation, the film industry and practitioners had a reason to discuss professionalism, global standard and practice.
Without doubts, Genevieve’s achievements promote the notion that the Nigerian film industry widely referred to Nollywood is imbued with a bundle of talents waiting to explore the world.
However, Genevieve’s achievements aren’t the first to showcase Nollywood to the world, the achievements merely serve as icing on a cake waiting to be explored by the global market.
What has become baffling to people in the industry is what exactly is the obtainable practice over the world.
The global practice remains a process where filmmakers meet with cinema film distributors to get their films across to cinema exhibitors, who own cinema houses where the movie is screened.
Filmmakers work with the distributors to secure a date or spot on the cinema year calendar. Most times often, the dates are secured at least four months before the premiere or movie release.
This is a model practitioners in the cinema business championed by Ben Bruce Murray, Kene Mkparu have been able to mold in the past decade and are working endlessly to get right.
Some of the biggest investors in filmmaking in Nigeria that include EbonyLife Films, Golden Effects, Corporate World Entertainment have always gone through this process to get their film released and screened in cinemas.
If this process is tampered with, it has an overall negative effect on the industry and the business model.
Thus, the question remains when did Genevieve and her team approach a licensed cinema film distributor for the release of Lionheart?
If the response is two weeks as being bandied about, then, there is no basis for the statement credited to Adegoke on behalf of Genevieve.
However, if the response is four months back, then, the question is what was the basis for the distribution company in turning down the movie?
This, I believe, is privy information between the two parties until it is made public.
Now, if pitching a tent with another distributor is perceived as a threat, then I wonder how the industry has been thriving with all the distributors bringing different films to the cinema in over a decade.
What has, again, become ridiculous is the notion that the cinema film distributors are unhappy and willing to sabotage the movie release in Nigeria because of its acquisition with Netflix.
This notion is not only ridiculous but absurd because if Netflix is unperturbed about its content being shown in Nigerian cinemas, where it has subscribers, why should the cinema chain or distributors be afraid knowing fully well that Genevieve has made a name for herself to sell her film in the cinemas.
Bottom line is, a 'not-so-good' precedence was almost set by the Nollywood queen and luckily, the cinema industry stood firm against it.
Nigerian movie and cinema culture is growing, and at a fast rate, it is only logical that the process put in place is allowed to thrive for it to become more globally accepted.