Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry has grown to become one of the largest and fastest growing film industries in the world, estimated to be worth $5.1bn and while this should be celebrated there are some worrying signs on the horizon. Over the past twenty years Nollywood as largely depended on low budget exploitation films and it is still struggling to take the next crucial step towards making the more profitable mid to high budget films, which in this market is between £1m – £12m ($1.68m – $20m). Yes, there have been a few unsuccessful attempts which have not quite paid off but there has not been a concerted and sustained effort to make top quality films and this has left the door wide open for Hollywood movies to come in and slowly begin to dominate this very profitable market.

This situation has come about mainly because the Nigerian film watching audience is becoming more sophisticated in the types of films they want to watch. The table below shows the highest grossing Nollywood film in 2013, Flower Girl took just $161,278 at the Nigerian box office compared to highest grossing Hollywood film Wolverine which took $403,195 that is two and a half times more than Flower Girls earnings and on the all time list, The Avengers took $818,796, while Ije: The Journey took just $279,135 therefore giving The Avengers an impressive three times Ije’s box office earnings.

Wolverine earned in box office terms 2.5 times more than Flower Girl in 2013
Wolverine earned in box office terms 2.5 times more than Flower Girl in 2013

Top Five Hollywood Films in Nigeria (2013)

1. Wolverine (2D and 3D)           $403,195

2. Thor 2 (2D and 3D)                 $372,180

3. ?Iron Man (2D and 3D)             $347,368

4. White House Down                 $303,947

5. Man of Steel (2D and 3D)      $282,856

Top Five Nollywood Films in Nigeria (2013)

1. Flower Girl                          $161,278

2. Weekend Getaway             $124,060

3. House of Gold                     $83,741

4. The Contract                        $62,030

5. Cheaters                              $46,523

Tango with Me Nollywood’s second highest grossing film of all time with $248,120.
Tango with Me Nollywood’s second highest grossing film of all time with $248,120.

All Time Top Three Films in Nigeria

1. The Avengers                   $818,796 

2. Skyfall                               $651,315 

3. Avatar                               $576,879





The huge difference in box office earnings between Hollywood and Nollywood films is a worrying trend to see unfolding in Nigeria and while we all agree the industry should continue to make the low budget exploitation films which the industry was built upon, it is also vital that Nollywood moves on to make better quality films to satisfy its huge market of over 170m people, which no longer just wants the usual fare of low budget films.

Nollywood is also missing out on huge international profits by not making these better quality films. After all, Nigeria has a goldmine of exciting stories waiting to be told to a global audience therefore, there is absolutely no reason why the industry cannot make films of the quality of 12 Years a Slave which cost $20m and grossed $188m, Think like a Man which cost $12m and grossed $96m, You Got served which cost $8m and grossed $49m and Hustle and Flow which cost $2.8m and grossed $24m. Today there is no doubt there is the urgent need to move Nollywood to the next level for it to achieve the huge growth in profit margins enjoyed by these and many other well made black films, if the industry fails to take this step then the economic and social consequences for not only for Nigeria but the whole black film industry will be damning.


These are approximate figures using weighted averages. There were 14 Cinemas in Nigeria in 2013 with approximately 70 screens?. For the conversions into dollars, current exchange rates were used which could lead the figures to being slightly lower than at the time of release.

International box office figures and budgets were obtained from Box Office Mojo.