The Nigerian cinema industry has recently been experiencing a serious decline in revenue, no thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic which has wrought health and economic havoc across the world.
Information released by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), revealed that cinemas across the country have been losing as much as 30% of their weekend revenues since January.
Between 17 and 19 of January 2020, Nigerian cinemas grossed N75.9 million. However, the figure dropped by 20.8% to N60.1 million by the first weekend of February. Fast-forward to the beginning of March, it dwindled further to N54.9 million. As of the second weekend in March, the figure stood at N45,283,647.
In all, the industry’s revenue dropped by as much as 30.65% between January and March 2020. By the third week of March, the Coronavirus pandemic had already taken its toll on the industry to the extent of almost bringing it to its knees.
Each of the cinema distributors has been affected in varying degrees, even as movies that were premiered during this period did not enjoy as much patronage due to the virus scare.
Take for instance, The Legend of Inikpi which was premiered on Silverbird Cinemas on 24 January 2020, raked in only N7.4 million in its first weekend.By February, it had dropped to a weekend average of N973, 850, with barely 801 viewers across the country.
This figure declined sharply in subsequent weekends, with only 269 viewers between 6 to 8 of March, and only 126 viewers by the next weekend.
The highly anticipated film Living in Bondage: Breaking Free was premiered by FilmOne in November 2019. The film maintained enviable figures weeks after following its debut, Something that cannot be said for films that were released January.
Following its first seven days in the box office, Living in Bondage: Breaking Free had grossed N48.6 million, according to data from CEAN. The film grossed an additional N36.7 million in its second week to remain number 1 at the Nigerian Box Office. In its third week, the film made 24.7 million, dropping to number 2, whilst having the highest weekend admissions. After three weeks, it had grossed over N100 million.
But Living in Bondage: Breaking Free was not spared from the Coronavirus effect, as its viewership took a sharp turn in January 2020. The movie had its lowest viewing between 17 – 19 January, bringing in a paltry N254,100 across the country, which is the lowest figure ever recorded since its screening.
Sugar Rush, another well-anticipated movie from FilmOne, broke the records when it grossed N40 million in the opening weekend. However, the fortunes of this movie also turned around worst in January when it started declining, falling from N18 million between 17 – 19 January, to N2.3 million in March 2020.
The partial lockdown that was declared in some parts of the country, including the ever-busy Lagos State, makes for an even more uncertain performance in the second quarter of 2020.