In the wake of our new reality, we need to rethink the way we experience culture.

There comes a time in the lifecycle of a movie when all the people that make up its value chain finally sign off on its release. At this point, it undergoes a complex series of marketing and PR processes to give it a fighting chance amongst the hordes of newly finished movies waiting to be released. One of its many marketing trajectories is something called a premiere.

Movie marketers, who know their onions, know that a premiere can make or break a movie’s chances of ever making it big.

Name it, all your favourite movies have organized these industry events with cinema owners, movie award organizers, fellow producers, investors, and streaming platform companies all in attendance.

The movie industry recognizes two main types of premieres. The first is an exclusive event that features a small selection of industry stakeholders. It is a highly exclusive affair, devoid of all the pomp and pageantry that comes with publicly showcasing a movie. No hand-woven, sequined gowns and custom-made, tuxedos; just critics and conversations – It’s kind of the premiere before the premiere.

I am talking about a premiere so exclusive that even the movie actors have to be considered for a chance to get in.

The second and most popular is the premiere that the public sees and knows. It’s the highly- publicized, well-packaged, red carpet affair with all the movie stars in attendance, surrounded by their teeming fans and the enlarged visuals of the movie posters.

But in recent times, there has been a distinct shortage of exclusive premieres, amidst a line-up of blockbuster movies prepped to make an appearance. 

This is a direct response to the ongoing global crisis and the subsequent shut down of cinematic releases everywhere because premieres, like most aspects of the movie value chain, require people to gather.

And even though these industry sessions help give feedback to directors as regards last minute cuts, arm the press with review materials, inform the public about the movie’s release dates and inundate the marketing team with droves of genius ideas about how to position the flick, the movie industry has somehow managed in the last few weeks to bypass them.

Not altogether though, they have instead resorted to the next best option; Digital Premieres.

‘Fishbone’, the flick by Editi Effiong recently staged a digital YouTube movie premiere on 1st of May. And even though the idea was not to organize an industry exclusive premiere, it didn’t exactly receive the expected stir, influence-wise. 22k views for a free movie premiere isn’t exactly saying much, is it?

Universal/DreamWorks pulled out the big guns in their ‘Trolls World Tour, which bypassed the fanfare of brick and mortar premieres for an on-demand digital version on Friday, April 10, becoming the studio’s biggest debut for a digital release. 

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’, a Disney+ flick, arrived two months ahead of its prior schedule to a digital premiere on Monday, May 4 and even though the numbers are not yet in, predictions are favourably-inclined.

In the same vein, streaming platform giant Netflix will host the digital world premiere of ‘The Lovebirds’, a movie highly rated by culture custodians.

So the question is, if the digital premiere of movies globally is creating a new ecosystem where cinephiles, regardless of the crisis at hand, still enjoy a wholesome, digitally-driven, theatrical experience, why then is it not working as well in this clime.

Did I hear you say, this is Nigeria? Maybe.

Also, if your guess as to why digital premieres are a little hard to pull here is inadequate internet penetration, poor niche marketing or just simply that we have more ‘pressing issues’ in our minds as Nigerians, you may just be right.

A little advice to movie producers looking to follow the footsteps of ‘Fishbone’ and the other recently digitally-premiered flicks is to create a solid online theatrical experience that will be hard to forget.

The fact that it is a digital premiere should not cut out the need for a robust marketing budget, with an acceptable release timeline and staged red carpet appearances. 

The whole nine yards.

Because if we have millions of Nigerians online, then there are probably thousands of movie enthusiasts available who would readily engage with you online.

Only if they knew.

This article was written by Henri ‘Yireconnect on Instagram with him here

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