I have written once or twice at my site about the Nigerian movie industry. This was disingenuous of me since I have not seen a full length Nigerian movie in 6 years. I did, however, see a Nigerian movie this past Christmas day. This happened at a meet and greet and I could not stop gushing at how much better Nollywood movies had become.
The last movie I saw was 'Hostages', back in college. But, this new movie was a whole new world to me. The casting was impressive and the movie producers used an HD recorder. Nollywood had come a long way, I thought to myself. I then sat through part one and two, but my host did not possess parts three and four of the same movie. Consequently, although the director had managed to work my interest, I did not get an opportunity to watch the movie completely unravel. My host announced that this was a common occurrence because by the time she went back to the retailer to pick up the other parts of the movie a few months later, the retailer apparently ordered too few and they were sold out faster than an iPhone on launch day.
1) Income: If you have never seen this in action you are likely to assume that this is similar to Warner Brothers making Superman 1, Superman 2, Superman Returns and whatever they can come up with next time. But you would be wrong. I am talking about splitting the movie right in the middle of the plot. The movie producer figures nobody will pay 24 dollars for a DVD or a box set of DVDs for that matter. But he eases the consumer into the purchase by delivering the movie in bits and in the process guaranteeing his future income.
2) Piracy: Yet another reason why a movie producer in Nollywood may choose to release their movie in parts is the thorny problem of movie pirates. If the movie was released all at once the unit price would have to be higher, thus creating a bigger incentive for the pirate to duplicate the DVDs and make a brisk buck out of the movie makers sweat. Also, splitting the movie in at least two parts, sometimes four, will require the movie pirate to put in twice as much work to move units, which is also a disincentive to copy these movies. This would not guarantee that the movies would not be pirated but at least it ensures that the pirates must develop a decent business model for their business to break even.
3) Time: Entertainment is a unique commodity in that not only do you have to purchase the unit of entertainment, you also have to devote a sizable amount of time to its consumption. Nollywood developed to fill an entertainment void. Nollywood's challenge was that in financing her ventures, there was a steady audience and a large pool of talented actors. This has also made this movie-splitting practice emerge organic and remain sustainable up till now.
The Nollywood business model has served the industry well, by guaranteeing income for the producers, creating an orthogonal business model to deal with piracy, and accounting for consumers with ample time to spare. However, as Nollywood matures there will be a change in expectation by the consumers of Nollywood movies. Thus, the current practice and method of pricing and delivering movies may require a review. With the emergence of alternative movie distribution technologies, such as set top boxes (Apple store, Netflix store, etc) consumers will demand more and will question why they can only watch half of a movie on demand. Also, as more would-be consumers of Nollywood's craft start to utilize competing modes of entertainment, such as the Internet and gaming consoles, it will become more difficult to explain spending 4 hours on a Nollywood movie that could have been edited into a 2 hour flick.
Finally, Nollywood movies are increasingly being consumed outside of Nigeria, and the retailers of this movies are few and far between in most cities. This was definitely the case for my host who could not get the concluding part of the movie at any of the two stores carrying Nigerian movies in Atlanta. All these considerations suggests that over time, Nollywood will have to abandon the current pricing and supply models that have served her so well and gravitate towards more globally acceptable standards.
I confess that I am a fledgling Nollywood observer but, I would like to hear from more proficient Nollywood 'gurus'. What do you think about Nollywood and the business of the industry? I am still in the hunt for parts 3 and 4 of the movie that got me thinking about Nollywood's pricing model - 'The Preacher Man'.
Finally, please vote for this blog, my ...Easier... blog, and myself, Solomonsydelle, at the ongoing Nigerian Bloggers Award. Thank you.