The entertainment industry, particularly Nollywood, which is regarded as one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, is facing slow growth in cinema screen investment.
The success of blockbuster films showing during the holiday season was limited as cinemas were unable to show the movies to a wider audience due to the low number of screens in the country.
This led to low ticket sales for some movies, as well as a slowing of such movies’ publicity and the ability of producers and directors to make sufficient profits.
According to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in late 2021, the number of cinema screens in Africa is 1,653, which is one screen per 781,402 in population coverage, compared to the United States, which has a total of 44,111 cinemas, translating into 7,503 per screen.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest country, and Nollywood, the world’s second-largest movie industry, has 251 screens compared to the United States, which has over 40,000 screens, China has over 34,000, and Japan has over 5,000.
Patrick Lee Cean, a member of the Cinema Exhibition Association of Nigeria’s executive council, said there are only about 251 screens in the country, and the average number of screens in a single theatre is six, while some might have less than this.
He said it was difficult during the holiday season because four major blockbuster movies with long durations occupied most screens at that time, allowing them to schedule other movies at an inconvenient time due to a shortage of screens.
“We have also lost some existing screens, and because of the naira-dollar exchange rate, we are unable to replace them,” he said. “We are pleased that the cinema industry is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and that investors are returning, but we still require government assistance.”
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Lagos, the commercial capital of the country, has the highest number of cinema screens, at 41 percent, when compared to other states. It is home to a good number of high-income earners and cinemagoers.
“It was really difficult during the festive period, which was a peak period for the industry, to screen all movies due to the insufficient screen,” said a cinema manager in Lagos who wants to be anonymous.
He said they had lost some of their customers who wanted to see other movies apart from the blockbusters that had been rescheduled to an inconvenient time.
According to experts, the growing number of high-quality Nigerian films is bringing more people back to the cinemas but the shortage of screens and lack of cinemas in some states may affect the industry’s growth.