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Celebrating the Creative Industries: The Nollywood Phenomenon

October 3, 2012. The Nigerian film industry has become one of the principal forces of popular art on the continent. Colloquially known as “Nollywood, it has over the years grown to be a world phenomenon, ranking third in the global movie industry in terms of revenue and value after Hollywood (USA) and Bollywood (India).

The production of the now classic “Living in Bondage” by Mr Kenneth Nnebue was as response to the lack of quality productions in the local television stations due to budget cuts and mismanagement. That movie sold hundreds of thousands of copies and established Nollywood’s standard theme: Marital Discord, Greed, A Conflict between Christianity and Juju. Indeed, from these accidental origins, a cultural phenomenon emerged.

The Nollywood film industry has evolved a lot since these humble beginnings and as these days, normal films are usually made on budgets ranging from 1.5 million naira to 2.5 million naira spanning 7 to 10 days. The film industry accounts for 5 per cent of GDP and 11 per cent of non-oil exports[2] and is the country’s second largest employer after agriculture.[3] The most popular locations to shoot movies are Lagos, Enugu, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. In 2009, about 75% of Nigerian films were produced in local languages, such as Yoruba (55%), Hausa (16%), Bini (3%) and Igbo (1%)[4].

As imperfect as it may seem, Nigeria’s film industry has established itself as a major cultural and economic force in Nigeria and the rest of Africa, and its impact goes beyond what could be measured by numbers. At present, Nollywood is second only to Bollywood in terms of the number of film productions[5].

Against this background, NOI Polls, an opinion polling and research organization, conducted a nationwide poll to establish the level of interest of the average Nigerian towards Nollywood, their reasons for this cultural phenomenon and suggestion about how the quality can be improved.


The opinion poll was conducted from August 7th to 9th. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,176 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of plus or minus 3% of what they would have been if the entire population had been surveyed. The questionnaire was designed in English and the survey was conducted in English, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, and Pidgin, to ensure coverage of relevant geographical and demographic groups. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software was used for data entry and analysis. Descriptive statistics, mainly frequencies and percentage distribution, charts (pie, component and bar) and cross tabulations were used in data analysis.

Demographic Distribution of Respondents Only 34% of females completed the survey, compared with 66% of males who did.

Majority of respondents (54%) interviewed were resident in the South-West geopolitical zone, followed by 15% in the South-East, 14% resident in the North-Central and 12% in the South-South. The North-West had 3%, while the North-East had 2% only.

In addition, majority of respondents were aged 18 – 21 (69%) and 22- 29 (37%). 9% of the respondents were aged 46-60, while 7% were aged 18-21. Also a large percentage of respondents were income earners as compared to students who were 20%.


Avid Nollywood Movie fans

An overwhelming majority (98%) of the respondents interviewed responded affirmatively on watching Nollywood movies whilst only 2% said they do not watch Nollywood movies.

Movies preferred to watch

Most respondents (40%) prefer watching movies with a comedy theme as compared to 39% who prefer to watch movies with a drama theme, 14% of the respondents prefer romance movies whilst 2% prefer horror and a period piece.

Attraction to the Nollywood movies

Respondents were asked for the main factor that attracts then to watch certain Nollywood movies. The vast majority (56%) said they are attracted to watch films because of the actor or actress involved. A further 34% said they are attracted by the storyline and 6% by the director

Nollywood movie ratings

The majority of respondents (48%) said they currently rate Nigerian movies as good while 31% rate them average. This is followed by 17% that rated them very good, only 2% rated Nollywood films as poor.

Areas Nollywood Movies could improve on

When asked for the area where Nollywood movies could improve on, the majority (48%) by far said it is the storyline. This is followed by 19% who said the production/picture quality and 17% who said the acting could be improved on. 8% of the respondents said costume while 5% said soundtrack respectively.


Results from the snap poll indicate that Nollywood films are very popular among Nigerians since 98% of the respondents surveyed acknowledged that they watch them. Results also show that comedy (40%) and drama (39%) are the most preferred genres of film in Nigeria followed by romance (14%). The major factor that attracts people to watch certain films is the Actor/Actress involved. This clearly shows that casting the right actor/actress in a Nollywood is a key success factor. Even though the majority (48%) rate Nigerian films as good, the majority also agree that the main area films have to improve on is their storyline. In addition, our poll found that the most favourite Nollywood actors in Nigeria are Nkem Owoh, Emeka Ike and Jim Iyke (all tied at 20%); while the most favourite Nollywood actresses are Genevieve Nnaji (20%), Mercy Johnson (19%) and Omotola Jolade Ekehinde (17%).

Also, only 25% of the respondents interviewed watch movies at the cinemas; the key reason why 75% do not go to cinemas is because they can buy the DVD and just watch it at home. This is in line with findings from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics that shows that the majority of Nollywood films go directly to DVD and Nigeria only has 0.4 cinema screens to 100,000 people

However, most respondents (44%) would go to a cinema to watch a Nollywood movie as compared to 37% who would go to watch a Hollywood movie. This is an interesting statistic and should be noted by cinema owners across the Nation.


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