‘Wedding Party’ Fuels Record Nigerian Box Office Despite Ailing Economy -Variety
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Security fears, a lingering recession, and continuing uncertainty surrounding a stalled reform agenda have made for tough times in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and second-largest economy. Across the country, consumers have felt the pinch as the currency has lost more than 50% of its value in the past year.
But while it might hardly seem like a time for celebration, that hasn’t stopped audiences from turning out in record-breaking numbers for “The Wedding Party,” a romantic comedy that’s 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 has surpassed all our expectations,” says executive producer Mo Abudu. “It’s been an incredible ride.”
“The Wedding Party” capped a record-setting year for the Nigerian box office, which grossed 3.5 billion naira (around $11.5 million) in 2016, with nearly 30% coming from local pics, marking the first time Nigerian films have crossed the billion naira threshold.
At a time of steady declines, it’s been a rare sign of resilience from the Nigerian economy.
“Cinema has become…a safe, fun, friendly outlet to ease the economic pressure,” says 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. “It helps people deal with the challenges that we’re facing.”
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