As the late Art Buchwald would have been happy to tell you, Hollywood’s accounting practices tend to be garbled at best, and borderline criminal at worst. Studio bean counters are masters of obfuscation and misdirection, with a knack for making blockbusters seem like middling hits, and profitable B-movies appear like money losers. Figuring out how everyone in the entertainment biz is able to afford endless Botox and Kabbalah lessons is a task well beyond our mental powers.
It was refreshing, then, to come across this detailed breakdown of exactly how much Nollywood filmmakers stand to earn each time they commit their vision to Video CD. As you might have already guessed, budget control is key to preserving any semblance of a profit margin:
An average producer spends between $15,000 and $25,000 to produce a Nollywood film. Some people may find this level of investment commitment ridiculous, accounting for the apparent low quality of the film products, but indigenous film producers in Nollywood argue that based on the present available distribution opportunities any increase in the production budget renders the project non-viable.
Theatrical release revenue for a “good” film released through the present theatre route in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya combined is approximately N10 million. Less cost of advertising and other distributor’s incidentals, a producer can expect about N6 million ($40,000) from the distributor. Local DVD (Video CD) distribution in Nigeria and Ghana revenue is an additional $15,000. United States distribution rights are bought for a maximum of $15,000 by the “Big Three”: Sanga Entertainment, Executive Image and Franco Films.
European rights usually go for a maximum $5,000. Therefore a “good” Nollywood film can net $75,000.
That net could easily double if the Nigerian government was more aggressive about going after pirates. So far, though, Lagos-based authorities have been lackadaisical about enforcement.
If you want one last Nollywood jolt before starting your day proper, we recommend Pieter Hugo’s series of interpretative portraits. But be forewarned: Some of ’em are pretty graphic, especially if you love cattle.