Resilience is a word that truly defines the Nigerian spirit, but it is not often you come across a Nigerian movie that completely shatters all existing stereotypes, defying the prevailing economic odds and setting new records in an industry that is famous for quantity rather than excellence.
Despite a crunching recession, and a currency that has lost over 45% of its value in the past 18 months, The romantic comedy has spent seven weeks at the top of the box office and become the first Nigerian film to pass the 400 million naira (around $1.3 million) mark.
It’s not difficult to pin point why the movie has become a hit, boasting one of the most diverse and colorful casts ever seen in a Nigerian movie, the wedding party is a beautiful union between Nollywood, Nigeria’s dynamic music industry and the comedy industry.
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Ace Nigerian pop singer Banky W and Ikechukwu do an amazing job of representing the ability of musicians to cross into the movies.
The movie also brings together the crème de la crème of the comedy world, AY, “Emma OhMy God”, the hilarious Frank Donga and off course the God father of stand-up comedy Ali Baba Akporobome.
Nollywood shows off a synergy between the fresh blood that is Adesuwa Etomi, Somkele Iyamah, Enyinna Nwigwe and the timeless talent of Richard Mofe Damijo, Ireti Doyle and the comedic genius of Shola Shobowale.
The Wedding Party relied on the collective energies of EbonyLife Films, Film One, Koga Studios and Inkblot Productions. This amalgamation forms the production team ELFIKE.
Ebony Life’s CEO Mo Abudu says:
“It has surpassed all our expectations,It’s been an incredible ride.”
The Wedding Party capped a record-setting year for the Nigerian box office, grossing 3.5 billion naira (around $11.5 million) in 2016, the first time Nigerian films have crossed the billion naira threshold.
The Wedding Party on its own raked in N200 Million in its first 16 days at the cinemas.
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Kene Mkparu, CEO of Filmhouse Cinemas, which operates 11 theaters across Nigeria, and which co-produced The Wedding Party through its distribution and production arm, FilmOne said:
“Cinema has become…a safe, fun, friendly outlet to ease the economic pressure,The Wedding Party helps people deal with the challenges that we’re facing.”
Nigeria has just 28 cinemas servicing a population of nearly 180 million, but the steady growth of the film industry has in turn fueled a rise in the number of filmmakers who are beginning to focus on big-budget, big-screen releases.
“The mindset of a lot of producers is that they want to make films that go straight to cinema first”
“Historically, the Nigerian film industry has grown from television , Now they’re beginning to give a cinematic look and feel to their films.”
Over the holiday season, despite stiff competition from the likes of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” The Wedding Party continued to break records. Mkparu notes that the film’s success was just indicative of a broader trend, where “audiences are starting to choose Nigerian films as their first choice at the theater.”
Along with an aggressive an social-media campaign and slick corporate tie-ins, the ELFIKE Collective succeeded in appealing to a broad demographic audience beyond the regular 18-35 year group.