Nigeria’s cinema industry faced with over $50m investment losses, seeks govt’s intervention

Nigerian cinema exhibitors, distributors and employees have recently lamented over the imminent collapse of the theatrical sector in Nigeria, and by default, the Nigerian film industry, due to the financial implications of the continued suspension of cinema operations, as a result of the lockdown.

Following the directives issued by the Federal Government on Monday, March 30, 2020, for the immediate lockdown of establishments, cinemas have since been shut down.

Consequently, the Nigerian film industry, which is reputed to be the second biggest film industry in the world (based on the number of films released), producing an average of 50 films weekly, accounting for over N200 billion in annual film industry revenue, and providing over one million jobs as the highest employers of labour after the agricultural sector, with a potential to produce one million more jobs (as estimated by World Bank), is faced with a danger of going extinct.

In the government’s effort to re-open the economy, the importance of prioritising the safety of Nigerians cannot be overemphasized. However, it is also expedient to consider the huge economic disaster brought upon this very important sector, by the continued suspension of cinema operations and other film-based businesses.

Over 250,000 workers, some of whom are directly employed by 58 taxpaying cinemas in the country have been furloughed; recent multi-million dollar investment like MX4D, IMAX & 4DX theatre halls with heavy technical equipment has been left to deteriorate; international/local creditors and investors are crying out for their money; production of films has been suspended, consequently resulting in joblessness and huge debts for Nollywood professionals.

In 2019, the sector grossed over N10 billion in box office earnings alone, with estimated total revenue of N35 billion. Thus, the most rational treatment from the federal government should be to include Cinema and Allied services in all possible financial interventions.

Following the FG directive to re- open domestic flights from July 8, 2020; a critical evaluation of operational processes would reveal similarities between airports and cinemas.

A domestic flight from Lagos to Yola is 2hours 30minutes, which is the same Running Time for all Movies. Likewise, each customer is expected to spend minimum of 3-4hours for a domestic flight trip which consist of Arrival at Airport, Ticket Purchase, queuing, waiting, boarding, Flying and Exiting the Aircraft; the same Hours per Customer processes can be likened to Cinema Visitor.

It is only more logically justifiable to classify Cinemas alongside Aviation (in prioritizing resumption), rather than with the hospitality sector, consisting businesses such as event centres, hotels, and bars with almost very different processes.

Psychologically, the lockdown has had a depressing impact on Nigerians, which can only be checkmated by allowing people to ease off at leisure centres with welldefined safety measures in place. Speaking at a meeting recently held at Lagos State Safety Commission, the Chairman of Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, Patrick Lee said CEAN have collectively outlined 10 Safety Protocols in guidance with NCDC Guidelines that would efficiently enhance cinema operators to combat the spread of the disease whilst receiving customers at the movie theatre.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *