The Story ⚡
The first ever Nollywood N 1 billion naira grossing title has been made at the Nigerian box office.
From the big-screen accounting business, marketing efforts and product positioning.
This piece shares 7 insights on the product success of “A Tribe Called Judah”
According to Nigerian exhibitors’ data shared via ComScore, December is the most successful window a film can position for.
In 2021, ticket sales hit an impressive N1.02 billion, while in 2022, ticket sales hit N1.09 billion.
With these numbers, December is the truly established big screen window wherein consumers who have saved all through the year are now open to spending with family and loved ones. Due to the conditioning, sales hit as high as 1 billion and admissions soared to a near half a million people.
For the big screen business, choosing the right lead cast is the most important factor for success. Do they have a true following and what distribution/ product minted this following? Here is an attempt to breakdown the star power of each lead cast of “A Tribe Called Judah”
Timini Egbuson – From his MTV Shuga breakout through Skinny Girl in Transit and now to the big screen. Timini is perhaps the most popular Male Box Office draw for mid-budget hits such as Elevator Baby, Dinner at My Place, Superstar, Breaded Life, and Something Like Gold.
Jide Kene – Big break from the Living in Bondage remake and a recognisable talent from movies popular in the east and now being cast as a leading face for big-budget mainstream films.
Uzee Usman – The Most endorsed male celebrity from the north and one of the most successful talents cross over into mainstream Nollywood who is physically fit to play the handsome Hausa/Funali stereotype in English-speaking roles.
Olumide Oworu – TV Star power from The Johnsons, Remergence star power from Far From Home Netflix series.
Tobi Makinde – Co-director of “Battle on Buka Street”, Working acting talent with TV and movies produced by Funke Akindele. Breakout role from the popular Nigerian sitcom Kamson and Neighbours.
Aside from the popularity of each actor, the lead characters of the film are from the different tribes of the country which helps the movie become a cultural zeitgeist appreciated by the peculiar Nigerian movie audiences whose tastes are wide-ranging.
As an industry standard, the marketing budget of a big screen title is ideally meant to be set at 30%. Most Nigerian producers upon wrapping up post-production don’t have that budget and resort to the most affordable means of pushing their product – sharing basic creative, materials on their social media pages and seeking free press cycles.
Based on observation, A Tribe Called Judah did have this 30% and utilised this budget quite well with the use of Viral Tiktok Dance clips, splashy premiere with media buzz, influencer campaigns, merchanding and creative creation of cast marketing assets
Then there was an indirect Prime Video Billboard promotion of “She Must Be Obeyed” in key states which might have translated into box office gains as it engineered the active Funke Akindele presence offline and online before the debut of the billon naira grossing film.
Nigerian cinema locations use an e-ticketing system which collates admissions metrics in terms of sales tracking and the number of movie-paying consumers. In 2019, Comscore confirmed it now measures the box office in nine African countries, including Nigeria, which is the seventh most populous country in the world and South Africa, which is the fourth largest country in Africa.
Comscore is the industry’s emerging, third-party source for reliable and comprehensive cross-platform measurement. it is a globally recognized company, that transacts and evaluates media across platforms. With a data footprint that combines digital, linear TV, over-the-top and theatrical viewership intelligence with advanced audience insights, Comscore allows media buyers and sellers to quantify their multiscreen behaviour and confidently make business decisions.
The numbers this platform provides are also used for tax purposes by local and federal institutions. which means if fake numbers are being used or promoted, the distributors and ComScore are liable for a court case.
Comscore is shared every week on the official Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigerian page (CEAN) – https://ceanigeria.com/box-office
Funke Akindele’s Legacy
The career trajectory of Funke Akindele is in tandem with the growth of the distribution channels that have taken place in Nollywood and the entertainment business. From the early 1900s, when sitcoms and soaps aired on NTA had a high household penetration through the era of the Alaba international wave, through the fragmented digital streaming era – Funke’s acting credits have been through it all.
The journey of her acting profession in Nollywood is why she has become a familiar household name across all of Nigeria’s social strata and demographics.
Let’s digress a bit to define terms and use Funke as a reference point.
Star Power: The more distribution platforms a talent can penetrate, the higher the chances of their increased star power.
Distribution penetration routes for working talents in Nollywood today include Box Office movies, Africa Magic series, Syndicated made for TV movies or series, DVD-produced movies, billboard commercials from pan-African brands, YouTube series, Radio Programmes, National Stage Plays, Newspaper columns, University stage plays, and secondary school ambassador programs. Funke has built her star power by penetrating the above routes over a decade, but a problem arises.
Today, there isn’t a structured directory or talent management agency that can pull such route access for talents to develop their star power – hence the rise of fragmented star power held by many Nigerian actors.
Bankable Star: In the film industry, a bankable star is an actor “capable of guaranteeing box-office success simply by showing up in a movie.” The bankability of an actor includes their film’s box office track record. Funke’s true bankability powress emerged in 2018 with the adaption of Jenifa for the big screen which pulled more than N30 million with less than 10 cinema screens in Nigeria.
Today she becomes the first Nigerian producer to gross a billion naira from a single theatrical run.
Box Office Draw: This term applies to how an actor can draw out a certain demographic by being placed in a movie. Think Taraji Henson for a black American audience or Cillian Murphy for a white, male above 25 or Funke Akindele for Middle Class, Female above 25.
Hollywood studios have a structured system to know what type of audience an actor can draw, here in Nigeria – it is still on guestimates and based on high-risk tests of putting an actor or celebrities as the lead in the big budget film and see what numbers are generated.
Exhibition and Screen Count
According to the last official count in the Film One distributors’ annual report, the number of cinema locations in Anglophone West Africa is 75 and the number of screens is pegged at 275.
A tribe called Judah exhibited in 75 cinema screens upon its debut on 15th December 2023.
Net Earnings Calculation and Profits
The producers of “A Tribe Called Judah” don’t take home the check of N1 Billion. Below are the calculations deducted from the final sales generated
Gross earnings is the total amount of revenue earned over a period of time by a movie product exhibited on the green screens.
Net Earnings is the total amount received by the producers after the removal of tax, cinema location share and distribution fee.
Profit is calculated to be net earnings – the sum of the budget and all marketing expenses.
With the product success of ” A Tribe Called Judah” the optimism for the big screen business gets a much-needed boost which was battered by the COVID-19 lockdown.
In the next 5 years, how this success translates to the industry will be very interesting to observe.