“We’ve always wanted to run a media outfit from bottom to top. But cinema was not a part of the value chain that we were interested in until we did a movie, ‘Beyond Blood’, and got caught up in the politics of film exhibition in Nigeria,” Greg Odutayo disclosed prior to the soft-launch of Royal Roots Cinemas in Lagos recently as he joins the league of top cinema exhibitors in the country.
The event was graced by well-meaning practitioners in the television and film industry. Odutayo, producer/director at Royal Roots, radio, and television stations owner, had further explained reason for setting up the cinema, “The politics within the industry affected our sales as we got caught in the middle of the fight between the two biggest distributors in Nigeria.
“As a result, one of them refused to carry our movies, and we were schemed out of a big chunk of the market since we were not screened in major cinemas.” To be sure, the impact was such that affected Greg and his partner and better-half. “Thereafter, I said to myself and to my wife, ‘We’re not doing another movie until we can be a part of the value chain.’ That’s when the journey of owning a cinema started, and a lot of our journeys have always been like that.”
Greg and his wife, Debbie Odutayo, are no strangers in the media value chain and have at various times held positions in the eco-system of the television and theatre industry. Notably, Greg was former President of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), while Debbie was Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards Head Judge 2018, and served twice as the first female President of Electronic Media Content Owners Association of Nigeria (EMCOAN).
Greg and Debbie Odutayo, both as Managing Director and Group Executive Director, respectively, run Royal Roots Communication Network, which birthed the new Royal Roots Cinemas. They’ve both successfully managed Royal Roots Television (R2TV Channel 112 on GOTV), and Royal Roots Radio (R2FM 92.9FM Ibadan), and (R2FM 107.1FM Lagos).
With vast industry experience spanning decades, the Odutayos’ remarkable journey into entertainment and growth from airing a radio show, creating a television cooking program, Global Cuisine, and becoming major stakeholder in the full value chain of Nollywood: production, media, distribution, and exhibition is one for the books!
Famous for being among Nigeria’s leading content creation and production powerhouses, some of the works from the stable of Royal Roots include ‘Beyond Blood’, the widely applauded romantic drama starring Kehinde Bankole, Joseph Benjamin, Bimbo Manuel and Deyemi Okanlawon, released in 2016 and Ìlékè, a Yoruba language full length feature co-produced with Deji Etiwe and Al-basit.
Also, including famous indigenous television drama series as House Apart, Tides of Fate, Edge of Paradise, My Mum & I, About to Wed and Soul Sistas. The company has delivered on loads of other kinds of programming. It produced Deal or No Deal Nigeria, Knorr Taste Quest – a Cooking Reality show, amongst others.
Incidentally, in a couple of weeks from now, Royal Roots will commission its Cinemall, a mall with a five-screen complex, sitting on two acres in the Lekki axis. The project has been in construction the last four years. It will be an addition to the burgeoning number of screens in the country, which is currently put at 251, a report noted.
Odutayo said the Royal Roots Cinemall, a cinema and a mall, is located in the plush suburb of Ikota, in the heart of Lekki. “The anchor tenant is the Cinema, but the Mall features 18 shops ranging from 5sqm to 267sqm with spaces for supermarket, saloon, beauty shops, boutique, bakery, fast food, (and) pharmacy and games arcade.”