- Nigerian cinema has best-ever box office returns
Despite a gloomy economy and an uncertain outlook, the Nigerian movie industry has just enjoyed its best year at the box-office with an amazing N1 billion from a record 50 locally-produced titles. After years of predictions, it seems that Nollywood is finally delivering on its promise and putting quality before quantity.
As a result, movie-goers have rewarded the industry with a massive increase in cinema ticket sales. The N1 billion bonanza, represents nearly 30 percent of the N3.5 billion generated from just 28 cinemas across Nigeria, which includes movies from Hollywood and around the world.
The Wedding Party, Nigeria’s latest blockbuster movie, has broken box-office records at every milestone since it was released nationwide to critical acclaim on December 16. It took just two weeks to eclipse the record of N176 million held by AY’s A Trip to Jamaica, emerging with a staggering N200 million before the New Year weekend was over. Both films led a strong lineup of popular Nigerian films in 2016, including Wives on Strike, The CEO, 93 Days and ‘76.
A Trip to Jamaica had an amazing run during September-October and looked set to close the year as the box-office champion. However, The Wedding Party hit the cinemas with the biggest opening weekend in Nollywood history with N36 million; the best-ever opening week with N66 million; the biggest week ever with N110 million; and a jaw-dropping Christmas box-office total of N146 million.
What followed appears to be unprecedented, with cinemas in many parts of the country reporting sold-out screens throughout the rest of the holiday season, as excited fans who saw earlier screenings returned for a second round, often with friends and family in tow. Much of the appeal of the film is due to a heartwarming storyline, beautiful sets and gorgeous costumes, while most of the audience can identify with the lavish Nigerian wedding, contentious relatives and almost-chaotic proceedings that defy even the most careful planning.
This amazing response to a Nigerian film suggests that the producers, ELFIKE Film Collective, were right to assemble such a stellar cast and to trust director, Kemi Adetiba, to guide them to superb performances. Relative newcomers like Banky W and Adesua Etomi look comfortable alongside veteran actors, Richard Mofe-Damijo and Ireti Doyle, while the comedy genius of Sola Sobowale, Ali Baba and AY shine through. ELFIKE relied on the collective experience of the partners, EbonyLife Films, Film One, Koga Studios and Inkblot Productions, to ensure high production values throughout.
According to the executive producer, Mo Abudu, “We really believe that the Nigerian consumer will support ‘made in Nigeria’ products if the quality is comparable to international standards. We wanted to create a film that would make our people proud and the response of movie-goers suggests that we have succeeded. Equally important has been the support of so many sponsors, including Dubai Tourism, Airtel, Diageo and Bank of Industry, who were instrumental in getting us off to an amazing start.”
COO of FilmOne Distribution, Moses Babatope, is delighted by the public response, noting enthusiastically, “This has been an amazing year for Nigerian cinema. With returns of well over N200 million, The Wedding Party is on track to deliver numbers we have never seen before for a Nigerian film. It’s important to note that it is selling more tickets than Rogue One, part of the Star Wars franchise and the biggest film worldwide this season. For the first time, Nollywood is competing with Hollywood at the Nigerian box-office and winning.”
The Wedding Party is only the second film produced by EbonyLife Films. It’s predecessor, Fifty, was the most successful film at the Nigerian box-office in 2015 and has spawned a television series due to air on EbonyLife TV in 2017. Fifty was the only Nigerian film and one of only five African films from a global selection of 238 films to be screened at the 59th BFI London Film Festival.
There are two new films in the works, including a sequel to The Wedding Party that will ensure more outstanding commercial success for EbonyLife in 2017/18. The Wedding Party is still showing at all cinemas across Nigeria.
The Drop in US Crude Oil Inventories Boosted Oil Prices on Wednesday
Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday following a decline in US crude inventories last week.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) had reported that United States crude oil inventories declined by 5.3 million barrels in the week ended January 22, 2021, more than a reduction of 430,000 barrels predicted by a Reuters poll.
The unexpected decline, coupled with slowing new COVID-19 cases in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, boosted oil prices on Wednesday.
Brent crude, against which Nigerian crude oil is measured, rose by 41 cents or 0.7 percent to $56.32 per barrel.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil also gained 56 cents or 1 percent to $53.17 a barrel.
“WTI is slightly firmer on the back of a larger-than-expected draw in US crude inventories reported by the API, which is offset by builds in gasoline and distillates,” said Vandana Hari, oil market analyst at Vanda Insights.
The data, however, showed petrol inventories grew by 3.1 million barrels in the week, more than experts projected.
Similarly, API data revealed that distillate fuel inventories that include diesel and heating oil, jumped by 1.4 million barrels, far higher than the 361,000 barrels decline predicted. However, refinery runs declined by 76,000 barrels per day.
“Market participants are now in ‘wait and see’ mode, wanting to see how lockdowns evolve in the coming weeks and months, and how successful countries are in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines,” ING economics said in a note.
COVID-19 Plunges Nigeria’s Oil Revenue by 41% in the First Nine Months of 2020
Nigeria’s oil revenue declined by 41.44 percent in the first nine months of 2020 to $2.033 billion, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
This represents a decline of 41.44 percent from $3.47 billion filed in the same period of 2019 when there was no COVID-19.
In the September 2020 edition of NNPC’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR), revenue from oil and gas rose by 16 percent to $120.49 million in the month of September, a 66 percent or $234.81 million drop from $355.3 million posted in the same month of 2019.
The global lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic plunged Nigeria’s crude oil sales and global demand for the commodity. This was further compounded by Nigeria’s high cost of production compared to Saudi Arabia, Russia and others that were offering discounts to boost sales during one of the most challenging periods in human history.
Experts like Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, President of Nigeria Association of Energy Economics, NAEE, were not surprised with the drop in earnings given the effect of COVID-19 on the world’s economy.
She, however, called for the revamp of the nation’s petroleum sector laws and diversification of the economy away from oil revenue dependence. She said “Covid-19 made 2020 a very hot year and it battered the oil industry internationally and we are not an exception; so we could not have been unaffected”.
She also said the effect of the fall “is definitely a wake-up call; we have to diversify, strengthen our other resources and capabilities”.
Omorogbe, a former NNPC Board Secretary, urged the government and the operators in the sector to look inward and think strategically, stating: “think medium term, think of where they want to be and the government, above all, must think of how best we can utilize our resources, so that we can achieve our objectives once we know and define them.
“It is a clear wake-up call, if not we will just sit here and find that we have become one of the poorest nations in the world”, she noted.
Crude Oil, Other Commodities Closing Price for Monday
Brent crude oil, Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark, gained 47 cents to $55.88 per barrel on Monday, while the US crude oil expanded by 50 cents to $52.77 per barrel.
Gold for February delivery fell $1 to $1,855.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery fell 7 cents to $25.48 an ounce and March copper was little changed at $3.63 a pound.
The dollar fell to 103.80 Japanese yen from 103.83 yen. The euro fell to $1.2139 from $1.2167.
Wholesale gasoline for February delivery rose 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. February heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon. February natural gas rose 16 cents to $2.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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