Battle of the Woods: Nollywood Versus Hollywood

The Battle of the Woods: Hollywood and Nollywood Cinema of the United States has played an undeniable role in the transmission and interpretation of many values that we hold today. We perceive real life situations based on what Hollywood has taught us. Some ninety years after the first huge success of American cinema, “The Great Train robbery” was released, we were introduced to a new brand of films. The cult classic “Living in Bondage” was distributed. This low- budget film produced in Onitsha, Nigeria set the scene for what would become an explosion.
So impressed were the filmmakers and actors by their work, they coined the term Nollywood- the Nigerian Hollywood. The different environments and practices have resulted in obvious differences and a few similarities between Hollywood and Nollywood. The most noticeable characteristic of motion pictures produced in North America is their potential cost. In Hollywood today, a blockbuster that grosses $70 million could be considered a flop. Most major movies have production expenses that routinely top the $100 million mark. According to the Variety box office revenue chart, the total revenue for the U.
S. box office in 2006 was $9. 49 billion. Spiderman 3 cost over $ 250 million to produce, and Titanic earned a remarkable $1,848,813,795 worldwide. With these huge costs, the number of Hollywood movies produced yearly is relatively low. On the average, 603 movies are released every year. In contrast, the average Nollywood film costs between N2,040,000 and N2,760,000 ( $17,000- $23,000) to produce. Most Nollywood movies are produced in rented-out hotels, homes, offices and not complex studios. With this, filmmakers have lower start-up and maintenance costs. Usofia in London cost a modest N 2. million to produce and distribute. These relatively low costs act as an incentive for many to produce movies. According to Hala Gorani and Jeff Koinange, the Nollywood industry churns out approximately 200 videos for the home video market every month. Furthermore, differences exist in the marketing and distribution of films in the two industries. Hollywood movies employ creative and bold methods to market their movies. A good deal of promotion and advertising is targeted to getting people into theatres. Media blitzes are launched to tout the movies weeks before its release.

Posters on buses, billboards, designed T-shirts, websites are used to promote Hollywood films. These films are then distributed to a diverse audience. Unless they are extremely unsuccessful, Hollywood movies are always first shown in cinemas across the world, before they are released on DVD. Nollywood films, on the other hand, do not put in a lot of money and effort on the marketing of their films. Other than the movie posters which are usually seen at the selling point of the films, not much advertising is employed. As all Nollywood films go straight to DVD and VCD discs, the industry thrives on direct-to-video marketing.
As many as thirty new titles are delivered to Nigerian stores and market stalls every week. Producers rely on the fact that with this outpour of releases, their movies would most certainly be picked up among the crowd; hence, employing further marketing practices is unnecessary. Currently, the available cinemas in Nigeria do not exhibit any Nollywood movies. The costs, methods of distribution, and themes of Hollywood and Nollywood films reflect strongly their target audiences; how the target audience affects the production of a film and how the production of a movie is designed to capture a specific target audience.
Hollywood movies are designed to capture a specific audience. Critics have proposed that they use beautiful actresses and hunky actors to capture that audience – the teenage population of the entire world. Hip, youthful plots drive the teenagers- the ones with the willingness and ability to spend money for entertainment purposes- to the cinemas. Even the movies with more elements of drama, and less action are still made to appeal to these teenagers. Halle Berry was able to win an Academy Award as well as completely amaze millions of boys who had just hit puberty for her racy role in Monster’s Ball.
The lack of detail that is characteristic of a Nollywood film from its conception to the time it is released on video is a cause to the effect that the target audience of the movies is generally the lower class and educated Nigerians. This stagnant market would seem to be what Nigerian movie producers want, as it is much easier to please this kind of consumers than a 16 year old geek that knows the meaning of CGI. Famous Nigerian filmmaker Chico Ejiro boasts that he can make a movie in three days.
All he has to do is make a movie with the same plot as thousands before it albeit with different actors, put a title on it, and distribute it. Nigerians will always buy it. His target audience therefore does not influence his movies because they are always there; they will always buy and this gives him no incentive for creativity. However, with all the differences between the two industries, similarities do exist. Just like Hollywood, the primary purpose of Nollywood films is to entertain viewers.
In their quest to entertain, the two industries may employ different procedures, but Hollywood and Nollywood filmmakers both share the burning desire to refresh the minds of audiences. The two industries can both be credited for producing many untouchable stars from mere mortals. Marilyn Monroe will be worshipped till the end of time, and Richard Mofe Damijo would forever be the ultimate sex icon in the minds of all Nigerian women above 18. King Joe Okechukwu would always be the pastor who speaks in tongues, and John Wayne is our idol in a cowboy hat that we will tell our children about.

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