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How Nigeria Created the Second-Largest Film Industry in the World


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The n+1 website has an excerpt from Nollywood: The Making of a Film Empire by Emily Witt, which explores how the Nigerian film industry came to produce more movies per year than Hollywood. As the excerpt shows, the popularity and reach of these films is largely based on an informal economy of pirated DVDs distributed in Nigeria and beyond, which generates massive audiences but little profit for Nollywood films:

Nollywood did not have a distribution problem. Its movies were widely available around the country and the world. It did not have a success problem. Nollywood was very popular. But the money made did not necessarily go to the producers who invested in the movies, because Nollywood had a piracy problem. The ad hoc distribution system that created the industry was now the biggest obstacle to its success.

“The day is gone when we used to be able to make money off of DVDs and CDs,” Genevieve Nnaji told the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016. “But there’s one thing we still have: eyeballs.” Nnaji hoped to make up for lost revenue with cinemas. “If we had enough cinemas, like Hollywood does, we will be good because we have the numbers,” she said. “Africa has—forget Nigeria—Africa has enough people to be able to buy tickets.”

Image via n+1.