Cinema Report: COVID-19 Pandemic Sees Moviegoers Desert Nigerian Movie Houses in March


The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a massive blow to the booming cinema industry in Nigeria. Data released by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) for March showed that cinema operators lost about 51.7% of the monthly revenue recorded in February.

Grossing data was only available for the first 2 full weeks in March. During this period, cinema operators only raked in N198.2 million, compared to the N412.04 million Nigerians spent in the month of February.

This continues a trend of falling cinema revenues since the beginning of the year. The February earnings showed a drop from the N551.9 million spent in January at cinemas across the country.

During the first week in March, Nigerian cinemas grossed N71 million. By the second week grossing increased to N81.9 million, which showed bright signs for the industry amid the coronavirus cases in the country.

Cinema Grossing for the second week in March.

By the third weekend, with just 3 confirmed cases in the country, grossing fell to just N45.2 million. This is still pretty high for a weekend, showing most Nigerians still made out time to visit the cinema as the confirmed cases in the country were still low.

Cinema Report: Covid-19 Sees Moviegoers Desert Nigerian Cinemas in March
Cinema grossing for the third weekend in March.

But that was the last recorded weekend as the call for social distancing intensified across the country. But that wasn’t the final blow.

Seeing the possibility of a widespread COVID-19 pandemic, state governments particularly Lagos, had rolled out restrictions on gatherings across the state by the fourth week. This took its toll on the cinema industry as outlets were forced to shut down following the restrictions.

By the fifth week, the federal government had effected a 2-week lockdown protocol in the affected states across the country.

With this, cinema operators are experiencing a massive loss during this period as there’s no patronage from moviegoers leading to the cancellation of movie premieres.

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Funke Akindele’s Who’s the Boss was the highest-grossing movie in March.

During the period cinemas were still in operation, Nollywood movie Who’s The Boss was the highest-grossing movie, raking in N26 million. Others like Hollywood’s Bad Boy for Life and The Invisible Man raked in N12 million and N16 million respectively.

Although the lockdown is supposed to end by next week, it is not clear if it will be extended or when business will be back to normal for most people. As a result, Nigerian cinemas may be in for troubling months ahead, unless they roll out innovative ways to still reach their customers.

This may include an online platform for users to watch movies per view since most of their customers are on forced quarantine at home. However, based on the fact that blockbuster movie premieres are postponed or cancelled, they will be in tight competition with other available video
streaming platforms in the country particularly Netflix and IROKOtv.

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