Does success on YouTube mean success at the box office? Kesari The King entrant to the exhibition is here to reveal answers to this untested assumption.
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Jointly directed by Tope Adebayo and Ibrahim ‘Itele D Icon’ Yekini, Kesari The King is co-produced by Itele d’Icon Film Production and FilmOne Production. The title will star Ibrahim Yekini, Femi Adebayo, Adebowale Adedayo, Odunlade Adekola, Boma Akpore, Femi Branch, Kelvin Ikeduba, Yvonne Jegede, Bolaji Ogunmola, Deyemi Okanlawon, and Adebayo Salami.
Before now, Kesari has been a flourishing IP on YouTube with 4 variants. The Yoruba noir follows the story of Kesari, played by Ibrahim Yekini, a gangster who has become an albatross around the neck of his community and has to be brought down by the law.
The already existing variants of the IP have an impressive viewership on YouTube. This begs the question of why FilmOne Distribution has decided to take such a title to the box office – which they have never done before.
What Happens Next?
In the history of the Nigerian box office, this is the first time a YouTube IP will go to the cinema. As a first of its kind at the exhibition market, three scenarios might play out.
Premium Market Appeal: With improved cinematography and the introduction of a mainstream Nollywood cast, the title has the chance of appealing to existing cinema moviegoers. The big screen variant has strategically introduced box office draws like Odunlade Adekola, Femi Adebayo, Deyemi Okonlawon, and Bolaji Ogunola to up its market appeal and increase its odds of success.
Bringing New Audiences: As an established IP on Youtube, Kesari also has a unique potential ability to pull new audiences to the theatres to get tickets. The non-Lagos market can also be a crucial success factor here. Kesari is an indigenous title product that appeals directly to this market and perhaps gross decent numbers upon its theatrical run.
Magnum deficere: There are market assumptions that Kesari is boldly testing. If these assumptions hold true, the title will experience a big failure in securing both existing audiences and even new ones.
What are the assumptions?
1. A Youtube IP can never be premium.
2. YouTube audiences are not local.
3. Movies on YouTube majorly attract and appeal to low-grade consumers.
4. High viewership does not translate to consumer acceptance.
As a YouTube IP, Kesari has four variants on the online video-sharing platform, and none of the variants has done less than a million views.
The first variant of the franchise, Kesari, was released on OlumoTV on the 23rd of October, 2018. Since its release, it has been viewed 1,960,459 times.
Kesari 2 was released on the 5th of November, 2018. At the time of filing this report, it has garnered 1,891,336 views.
The title returned on the 27th of May, 2019 as Return of Kesari. It has been viewed 2,845,236 times. The second part was released on the 10th of June, 2019. It has 2,923,296 views.
No doubt, the IP has a significant acceptance and following on YouTube. However, can this success be replicated at the box office?
By the time Kesari The King is released on the 25th of August, it would have titles like Barbie, Meg 2: The Trench, Mission Impossible, Orisa, Oppenheimer, and Akudaaya to compete against. Currently, Barbie is the highest-grossing title in Nigeria, having made almost N150 million in seventeen days. It has been described as the number-one film in the world. The dominance of this title might linger on even after the release of Kesari The King.
Similarly, it will have to compete against Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which will be released at the cinema on the 11th of August, 2023. The title has been rated 96% by Rotten Tomatoes. It is anticipated to pull significant numbers that might oppose Kesari The King.
There is also a formidable lineup of Nollywood titles from August 18th that also stand as a demand blocker for the new title.
Though Kesari The King is a Yoruba title, it must be clarified that it is not an epic title like King of Thieves (2022) and Orisa (2023). On the other hand, the title is a contemporary fantasy genre film.
While an epic film is a historical film that recreates a past event, a contemporary fantasy genre film is a kind of film whose story is set in contemporary times even though it has magical or fantastic creatures, characters, or circumstances.
In the history of the Nigerian box office, Kesari The King is the first YouTube IP to get slated for release at the box office. Just as King of Thieves broke the ground for other epic Yoruba titles like Orisa, is Kesari The King about to set a precedent for YouTube producers to bring their successful IPs to the exhibition market and expect a measurable acceptance?
From August 25th, the numbers will reveal this answer.