The Nigerian movie industry has always been a complex one.
Whether it is the inflated box office proceeds from ‘A-rated’ movies or the inordinate amount of humour-driven movies in circulation, our industry modus operandi has always been at odds with the global movie structure.
From haphazard release timelines to quality assurance mishaps, Nigerian movie stakeholders have always sailed the cinematic boat their own way.
But with the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent stay-at-home directive, movie releases and the hallowed theatrical experience of walking into cinema houses has experienced a huge setback; everywhere.
Blockbuster movies set for global release before we were struck immobile by covid-19 have been overwhelmingly tasked with finding new post-covid release dates.
But while the world is grappling with its new reality, many people have resorted to the next best option; streaming movies online to help cope with the boredom brought about by the isolation. Stakeholders have expressed concern on how this new normal could have a lasting effect on the way we consume movie titles in the nearest future.
Experts are of the opinion that as people get slowly accustomed to watching movies at home, that seemingly unassuming habit could inadvertently lead to unwillingness by moviegoers to seek movie titles outside the comfort of their homes in the future, especially when the movie in question is a mid-level production.
The predicted fallout on the cinematic habits of moviegoers is expected to only affect mid-level movies and not big budget titles with successful precedents and massive celebrity backing.
An anticipated Nollywood classic remake like ‘Nneka the Pretty Serpent’ for example, which has a promised release date of December 2020 is sure to create a considerable cinematic stir, following the success of the classic ‘Living in Bondage’ remake which sold out theatres and amassed awards in its wake.
A release of that caliber is sure to break the streaming ‘armchair habit’ of waiting for it to stream on Netflix.
Nigerians simply love their classics fresh.
On the other hand, smaller virtually unknown titles may not have the required clout to convince a considerable number of movie goers to break their newly-acquired Netflix romance.
This outcome may affect how mid-level, smaller budget, movies do altogether, whether their success is measured in ticket sales or digital streams.
This is not to indicate that classics are the way to go post-covid, not at all. Rather, a heightened sense of awareness on the quality of movies produced and the marketing strategy employed henceforth.
If the lockdown lingers as it is expected to do, movie houses may face an uncertain future, because habits once formed are not easily broken.
In my opinion, anything short of rallying people into cinemas by declaring a shockingly-reduced ticket price should be likened to conceding defeat.
The truth is that frown as much as they like at digital releases, cinemas just won’t have the leverage they had pre-pandemic.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here