Olufunke Uwaezuoke

This week concludes FIFTY’s remarkable four-month cinema run in Nigeria. The box office smash hit from EbonyLife Films has redefined return on investment metrics in the African film industry. Industry-watchers estimate that through various revenue-generating streams, the film has grossed over N400 million.

In partnership with Film One Distribution, the much talked-about film, revolving around the lives of four successful African women in 21st-century Lagos, made nearly N100 million through box office takings alone.

There were of course the other revenue streams. Among them were premiere sponsorship/ partnerships; private screenings; a first-of-its-kind deal with Internet streaming provider, Netflix; in-flight entertainment deals and video-on-demand (VOD).

“We started our cinema run in early December 2015 and four months later the film continues to resonate with moviegoers across the country. We are extremely proud and it is testament that Nigerians do support their own,” enthuses FIFTY’s executive producer, Mo Abudu.

But there is a secret behind this movie’s successful haul. Its revenue intake leverages on a unique business model not previously explored in the Nigerian film industry. This model serves as proof to various stakeholders – producers, directors and investors – that an unorthodox promotional mix combined with high quality production yields measurable results.

Of course, FIFTY also enjoyed tremendous support from the Lagos State Government, the Federal Government, corporate and social Nigeria. Such corporate titans like Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu and Herbert Wigwe were among the many that attended the premiere. Then music superstars Banky W & Waje surprised fans with cinema “Meet & Greet” in malls across the country.

There was also a “Win Big with FIFTY” promo, which was run nationwide with audiences walking away with weekly prizes including Wakanow holidays, SPAR vouchers, flat screen TVs courtesy of Konga and more. The Grand Prize of a brand new Mercedes Benz B-class courtesy Skymit Motors will be presented to a winner in next month.

FIFTY has in addition enjoyed rave reviews and international acclaim since it was first screened at the BFI London Film Festival 2015 from the likes of BBC, CNN, Vogue, and Essence and other national online and print titles.

The success of FIFTY has spawned a television series, the movie executives announced that they will extend the movie’s success onto the small screen. The TV show will continue the premise that the movie set up – a week in the lives of four African women approaching the golden age of fifty. It is still uncertain whether the lead characters will reprise their film roles will be revealed in due course. Season 1 of FIFTY: the TV Series is set for production in the fourth quarter of this year writing has already commenced.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed said of FIFTY:
“It was an amazing film – the music, costumes, story, and the elegance with which the plot was delivered. I loved it.”
Meanwhile, EbonyLife Films is set to release its second feature title “The Wedding Party” in December.