The hotly anticipated movie, 76, the first Nollywood film to get an international sales and distribution deal, is out with a bang at cinemas and in its second week since its release, it is still topping the charts and selling out audiences.
People waiting till weekends to watch the film have been left disappointed, as many arrived cinemas to find the movie completely sold out.
Some say it is the quality of the film that is generating the buzz, as it has left audiences wowed by the high production standards it has set. Others say it is the acting, as Rita Dominic and Ramsey Nouah put up such stellar performances that they have not only given their fans another reason to celebrate them, they have won over a new legion of movie enthusiasts.
Many who never watched Nigerian films before, have been converted after watching 76. It is not the usual comedy or Nollywood film but it has all the moments of laughter, action, pain, tears and downright edge of your seat excitement all wrapped into one.
No matter the theory on the success of 76, what is clear though is that its impressive numbers cannot be removed from the commitment the cast and the crew are showing to the film.
As of the last count, 13 cinemas had seen Rita, Ramsey, DKD and Ib Fiberesima behind the counter selling tickets, interacting with fans, taking selfies and conducting audience reactions. This is from Ajah to Abuja, from The Palms in Lekki to Palms in Ibadan and from Cedi Plaza in Abuja to Filmhouse in Surulere – they have been turning up without warning and making the cinema goer’s day.
The movie’s Director, Izu Ojukwu, famously described as the “Steven Spielberg” of Nigerian cinema, is notorious for being a lot more comfortable behind the camera. But even he was on tour, he had this to say for his film: “I have done my part. Now it’s time for audiences to do theirs and assess if we did our part well. Initial responses are encouraging I must say. Going on tour has helped me see where next I should take my art of filmmaking.”
When quizzed on the next steps, the Executive Producer of the movie, Tonye Princewill, said: “Having been recognised by Hollywood, Toronto and London, we thought that being recognised back home may be asking too much. But what we are seeing here is simply mind blowing. Selling out shows is one thing but selling them out when they are overlapping, I have never seen done before. There is no place like home. None.
“On top of that, the fact that 76 just won four awards for best script, best actor, best director and best overall film at the recent African Film Festival and you could not have asked for more. Commercial and artistic success is hard to achieve together.
“Usually you will do well to achieve either. We will continue to tour the country to engage with the fans and surprise Nigerians at their local cinemas through the holidays and into the new year.”
Princewill said the next stops for the movie crew are Kano, Owerri, Benin, Asaba, Warri and Port Harcourt. “We have already made our money back with our Hollywood deal, but the best reward for us is a chance to see Nigerians eyes light up when they feel the impact of 76,” he added.
Many fans emerged from the screenings with overwhelming excitement. One of the fans flew in from Accra just to watch the film, another drove from Ibadan to come and watch it only to find out it was also showing in all the three cinemas there. 76 is showing now all over Nigeria.