Nigerians’ cinema behaviour is quite inconsistent, and not even cultural nuances can explain

Omoleye Omoruyi
A cultural factor that can influence cinema behaviour in Africa is the role of storytelling. In many African cultures, storytelling is a significant part of the oral tradition
Cinema Behaviour in Nigeria

Cinema is a popular form of entertainment worldwide, and Africa is no exception. However, cinema behaviour in Africa can differ significantly from other regions due to cultural nuances and societal factors. Understanding these differences is crucial for creating a positive and inclusive cinema experience.

One key aspect of cinema behaviour in Africa is the importance of community. In many African cultures, going to the cinema is a social activity often enjoyed in groups. Families, friends, and classmates may go to the cinema together, making it a communal experience. This is reflected in the design of some African cinemas, which may feature larger seating areas or group seating options.

Another cultural factor that can influence cinema behaviour in Africa is the role of storytelling. In many African cultures, storytelling is a significant part of the oral tradition and is used to pass down cultural values and history. This means that films with strong narratives that reflect cultural values and resonate with African audiences tend to be the most successful.

Additionally, cinema behaviour in Africa can be impacted by socioeconomic factors. For example, cinema attendance may be more common in urban areas with more cinemas and where people have more disposable income. In some cases, the cost of admission may be a barrier to entry for some audiences, meaning that lower-priced cinemas or discount tickets may be more popular.

Overall, understanding cinema behaviour in Africa requires an appreciation of cultural nuances and societal factors that shape how people experience cinema. By considering these factors, cinema owners and filmmakers can create more inclusive and culturally sensitive cinema experiences that appeal to a diverse range of audiences.

But, the Nigerian audience is different.

To get another angle to understand contemporary Nigerian cinema behaviour, we use spending behaviour as published by the Cinema Exhibitors Associations of Nigeria (CEAN) for February 2023.

We first look at Google trends and how much people searched for the term ‘movies’ in February 2023. As shown in the image below, interest stayed consistent, and it is thrilling to see that the top cities in Nigeria are not the ones leading the charge.

Cinema behaviour - February 2023
How Nigerians searched with the term ‘movies’ in February 2023.

“Plane” (2023) took the first week of February (3rd-9th), going home with ₦16,478,263 at its second weekend in the cinema.

“Plane” is an American action thriller directed by Jean-François Richet and stars Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, and Tony Goldwyn. The plot centres on a pilot (Butler) allying with a prisoner (Colter) to save his passengers from a hostile territory they landed in for an emergency landing.

By that weekend film made a cumulative ₦37,711,367 that weekend. But, the numbers for the next four movies would interest you.

“The Battle on Buka Street” (2022) making ₦15,572,913 in that 7-day period had made a cumulative ₦624,411,903 on February 9.

The plot of “The Battle on Buka Street” revolves around the rivalry between two women who confront each other in a food challenge to win the prestigious ‘King of Buka Street’, a title conferred to the best local food seller in the region.

“Avatar; Way of Water” sits on the third roll with ₦8,672,120 in the 7-day period and ₦417,047,646 cumulatively.

Read also: 5 Nollywood movies that give you a sense of Nigeria’s political scene

“Ijakumo: The Born Again Stripper” made ₦8,303,334 and ₦261,715,855 in the 7-day period and cumulatively, respectively.

We jump to the sixth film on the ranking, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” which had spent 13 weeks in Nigerian cinemas and has made ₦1,037,268,672 cumulatively.

Nigerians’ cinema behaviour change according to relatability, and of course, a large marketing spend.

At the weekend after that 7-day period, 10-12th, “The Battle on Buka Street” had taken over the market square and led the ranking, increasing to ₦632,834,711. Here, the weekend gross had reduced, meaning the hype was slowly fading, but it still led the ranking.

Cinema Behaviour - Battle on Buka Street

“Plane”, “Love in a Pandemic”, “Avatar; Way of Water”, and “Ijakumo: The Born Again Stripper” followed in that order.

Nigerians spent ₦39,721,792 in that weekend, about ₦4 million less than the ₦43,892,294 made the previous weekend.

You would think Nigerians would go for love-inclined films after this, considering Valentine’s Day – February 14, but the same films led the rankings. This may indicate that the Nigerian audience prefers streaming platforms for stories of love and romance, where they ‘chill’ after.

Interestingly, however, the gross for the 7-day period – 10-16th – increased significantly to ₦81,187,910, meaning that cinema-visit-as-a-show-of-love, or simply Valentine’s Day hang out, continued like since ever. That amount was ₦65,793,238 the week before.

There is no data for the following weekend, but the audience shifted from February 24-March 3, going out for Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania, which made ₦18,869,311 in that week.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Released mid-February, the Disney film had made ₦80,772,441 by the second week in Nigerian cinemas.

The next film, “Cocaine Bear”, was not as popular, so only made ₦3,639,045, followed by “The Battle on Buka Street” – ₦3,262,500, “Love in a Pandemic” – ₦2,649,500, “Missing” – ₦1,293,393.

Spending in that period reduced significantly to ₦34,706,895 which may have been caused by the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

To cap everything written about Nigerians at the cinema in February, cinema behaviour may change due to social, technological, economic, and safety factors. As society continues to evolve, cinema behaviour will likely continue to change as well.

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