Cinema Culture on the Rise as Nigerians Spent Record-Breaking N6.6 Billion at the Movies in 2019


2019 was indeed a record-breaking year in the Nigerian box office. This is impressive as there has always been questions about the cinema culture in Nigeria; the willingness to spend on movie tickets among other reasons have impeded the growth of cinema culture in the country.

But 2019’s Box office statistics reveal an interesting trend in cinema matters. Compared to previous years, Nigerians appear to have spent big seeing movies at Cinemas throughout 2019.

A compilation of the stats released by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) shows that millions of Nigerians spent about N6.7 billion on movie tickets in 2019. This represents over 200% increase from about N2 billion Nigerians reportedly spent on movies at the cinemas in 2018.

This is remarkable when you consider that Nigeria has less than 100 screens across the country, with most concentrated in Lagos, Abuja, and Ibadan.

In December 2019, which is the highest grossing month of the year, Nigerians spent N1 billion (1,023,294,652) at the movies. This represents about 14% of the total annual cinema spending.

This impressive stat, buoyed by the festive/holiday period, indicates that Nigerians spent N400 million more than in the same period in 2018.

From personal experience at a prominent cinema in Lagos, movie tickets, especially new releases and blockbusters, rapidly sold out.

But it wasn’t all record spending through the year as some lows were also recorded. Months like February and September saw Nigerians spend just N291.8 million and N367.8 million respectively.

Breakdown for other months are – January, N443 million; March, N434 million; April, N734 million; May, N367 million; June, N576 million; July, N636 million; August, N657 million; October, N377 million; and November, 449.9 million.

The steadiness of last year’s big money spendings at the cinemas could be attributed to the steady release of several blockbuster movies. Several of those movies grossed the highest in their months. Movies like Avengers: Endgame, John Wick, Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw, Lion Kings, Jumanji, Aquaman and Captain Marvel were released last year and these pulled massive crowds to cinemas.

Box Office: Cinema Culture on the Rise as Nigerians Spent Over N6.6 Billion in 2019
Nigerian cinemas – Fast and Furious spin-off, Hobs and Shaw grossed high in 2019.

Interestingly, charts were not always dominated by Hollywood movies. Nollywood movies like Chief Daddy, The Bling Lagosians, Up North, Sugar Rush and Merry Men 2 gave their Hollywood counterparts a run for their money.

Infact, in the highest grossing week of the year, Nollywood movies Sugar Rush and Merry Men 2 were the top 2 highest grossing movies accounting for over N150 million.

Box Office: Cinema Culture on the Rise as Nigerians Spent Over N6.6 Billion in 2019
Merry Men 2

Nevertheless, Hollywood movies accounted for a larger percentage of the earnings in 2019. This further reiterates the need for Nollywood filmmakers to make movies that are more appealing to Nigerians.

Movies from other movie industries like Bollywood (India) and Gollywood (Ghana) made steady appearances on the ‘Top 20 Movies’ list too.

However impressive 2019 have been for the cinema world, the future of the industry is uncertain. Competition from Video on Demand (VoD) platforms is getting intense, with many of these platforms acquiring contents for users before it’s even out on the cinemas for moviegoers.

Therefore, it is pretty difficult to predict that 2020 will be a better year since audiences and technologies keep changing. Would the cinema culture in Nigeria continue to thrive? Or will VoD platforms tear into the industry in 2020?

It’s still a bit too early to tell. But if last year’s stats are anything to go by, Nigerian cinema appears ready to blossom despite the competition.

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