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Niyi Akinmolayan’s Big Bet On “Prophetess” Pays Off With N54 Million Easter Opening

Ibadan Funds!

The Story ⚡

Prophetess, written and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan hits jackpot with N54 Million naira opening Easter week – a first of its kind for an April release.

Tell More

The feature released April 2nd follows the story of Ajoke, a local Prophetess who makes a bogus prediction about a football match which sets off a chain of events beyond her control.

With her life in danger, she enlists the help of her sister to save her.

The feature stars Toyin Abraham, Kehinde Bankole, Kunle Remi, Ronke Ojo, Tina Mba, Stan Nze, Uzor Arukwe, Deyemi Okanlanwon, Seyi Awolowo, Blessing Jessica Obasi, Adedimeji Lateef among others.

The Big Bet

The big budget film made a bet using the ancient city “Ibadan” where the film was mostly shot and marketed heavily as a story pillar.

On a norm, big budget films put their full pressure points on Lagos that has the largest revenue share for box office gains.

But this was different, with the director putting both product design and marketing energy into the two states that make part of the south west regions – and it seems this experimentation payed off.

Number’s breakdown

The comScore numbers reveals that the title has made N42.64 Million from April 2nd – 5th  

a more concise breakdown shows the film made N28.77 Million for its opening weekend.

with advanced screenings that bumped its 4 days earnings to N42.46 million

Full Opening week has rallied to N54.08 Million

Who de shout?" - Toyin Abraham brags as 'Prophetess' makes over N43M in opening weekend

Now that you know the numbers, let’s take you through the several bets that was taken to make this a possibility.

 Each bet with different headline adds more context for knowing what was at stake.

Product Design Bet

Probably the hardest, Prophetess is a Yoruba movie and so far, the outing of Yoruba films at the big screens hasn’t been that impressive.

Hence what premise has to be crafted that must be relatable and commercial enough to draw a pool of core Yoruba movie goers and peripheral audiences that do not speak the language.

Product design also bet big on using the liberty stadium scenes as a huge spectacle to engage audiences at the climax of the story.

If this spectacle failed –word of mouth would have never reached the impact it currently has, rendering the most expensive scene in the project useless.

Marketing Bet

How do you get enough funds to market the film aggressively?

The director revealed to us that the big brands that featured in the advertising of the film gave the feature a war chest of funds needed to pull its heavy guerrilla style marketing.

In Ibadan, posters of the film were plastered on transport vehicles roaming traffic heavy spots closer to the samonda cinema house, as well as flyer posters given in a church invitation kinda style.

Lagos was different. A couple of digital billboards and a premiere that envisioned the culture of white garment churches was executed.

Toghther with the Deyemi and Toyin dramatic fashionista entrant.

Yea, Noise was made, videos were shared. Prophetess got the market attention relative to the big funds it spent.

Non-Ensemble Bet

There is an unspoken rule when heading to the NGN Box Office. To make bank with a domestic title, one must cast an ensemble of stars.

Prophetess might have broken this rule.

The cast of this commercial film was not filled with the typical flashy, glitz ensemble that has record breaking Instagram numbers producer tend to seek out.

It was a mix of established and new faces that made the film turn out great and still commercially viable.

However, can the rule be broken again?

Recovering Box Office Bet

The exhibition market is still recovering from the heavy hit of the pandemic.

So far in 2021, no domestic film has been able to open above the N20 Million mark.

Opening figures for big budget films are very much on the low and one might have argued that prophetess would meet the same fate.

But it didn’t.

Rather it strategically utilized the 4-holiday window to strike hard like Ozaze!

Niyi Akinmolayan’ s Bet

For the past 5 years, the filmmaker has been known to come on big budget films as a director for hire.

This time is different. Prophetess was engineered from nothing to N54 Million (opening week) with the filmmaker in major control of the vision.

What does this mean??

We asked: More writing. More Niyi Akinmolayan Films. More Stories that he wants to tell in his own format.


The saying goes thus : commercial product + great marketing = success.

However, how remarkable the success registered is heavily dependent on great distribution.

The creators of prophetess did a brilliant execution on the story with their commercial target audience in mind all the time.

With more than 7 bookings in a day for cinema locations owned by Film One, Prophetess was destined for success from day one.

Having a great distribution supercharged all of this efforts as the Easter title was carefully shoved right to the face of the market choking movie goers with its premise of religion and betting themes.

April window unlock

You must have seen the director quote “we have unlocked the April window”

What this means is that the title has proved that asides from December, there is money to be made in April.

This matters because the December window cannot be the only known period of the year where movie exhibition is profitable.

Hence, when exhibitors propose an April release to film executives, they might feel confident that their product will be received by the market and can perform successfully.

Top 5 Box Office Movie

In summary

Niyi Akinmolayan has been building his box office currency for the past 10 years.

how far will it take “prophetess” at the market – N200?? N400??

Check back here soon to find out.

Thank you for reading Covers the Business of Film and the Biggest movies that screen in Sub Saharan Africa.

Let’s be Friends on Twitter @Shock NG


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