A Boost For Nollywood With ‘The Wedding Party’ Success

A scene from the movie.

By Oladapo Okeowo with agency report

With an eclectic ensemble that cut across different genres, the Nollywood movie “The Wedding Party” was an instant hit. This is not news anymore. However, the contribution of the movie to the Nigeria movie industry is.

The movie has shown the marked improvements and strides being made in Nigerian cinema with its success at the box office taking it to audiences across Africa and the rest of the world.

For a movie industry characterised by straight-to-DVD movies of low quality, a budget of less than $20,000, and heavily pirated and sold on the street, the success of a new range of Nollywood movies is forcing the attention of the world; asking it to take note and take it seriously.

“”The Wedding Party” is 110 minutes of glamorous, rib-cracking, hilarious comedy centred around the marriage of two people of different sexual experiences and tribes. Throw in a bit of insecurity on the side of the bride, a playboy husband-to-be, mother-in-laws who hate each other and the owambe nature of Nigerian parties and you have you the masterpiece that is “The Wedding Party”.

The film’s director, Kemi Adetiba, admitted that she hadn’t expected it to be so successful.

In the three months since its release, the movie, which is still showing in cinemas, has already generated over N400 million ($1.3 million, €1.2 million euros), shattering Nigeria’s previous record of N178.5 million made by “A Trip to Jamaica”, another 2016 movie.

Both movies competing favourably with Hollywood blockbusters that were released in the same timeframe.

The movie’s appeal lies in the ability of the cinema-goer to see a reflection of hi/herself, her aunt, mom or relative in the acts. The movie, a love story, was given a very “Nigerian Touch”.

“The first thing that was important to us was making a Nigerian story,” Adetiba said.

“The story of love and romance is very universal but we didn’t try to play like a Hollywood movie or that sort of thing.

“We wanted people to be able to turn around and go, ‘That’s my mum, that’s my auntie.’ And that’s what happened.”

– Improving standards –

Critics, the public and the vocal band of Nigerian cinema bloggers have called the film “superb” and “perfectly cast”. They also agree 2016 was an “exceptional” year for Nollywood.

About a dozen Nigerian films including “The Wedding Party” have been shown at international film festivals, including in Toronto last September.

“The CEO” for example, which came out in June last year, had a budget of more than $1 million and couldn’t be further removed from the shoestring productions that typify Nollywood.

“We are in a crucial time in the history of Nigerian filmmaking,” said Abiola Adenuga, the head of the PEFTI Film Institute in Lagos.

“Professionalism is climbing to new heights with new production companies, advertising agencies, cinema houses.”

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