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Research Content


Research Question:

How has social media affected film distribution in Nigeria (Nollywood)?



The cinema of Nigeria, often referred to informally as Nollywood, consists of films produced in Nigeria; its history dates back to as early as the late 19th century and into the colonial era in the early 20th century.


Film as a medium first arrived Nigeria in the late 19th century, in the form of peephole viewing of motion picture devices. These were soon replaced in early 20th century with improved motion picture exhibition devices, with the first set of films screened at the Glover Memorial Hall in Lagos from 12 to 22 August 1903. The earliest feature film made in Nigeria is the 1926’s Palaver produced by Geoffrey Barkas; the film was also the first film ever to feature Nigerian actors in a speaking role. As at 1954, mobile cinema vans played to at least 3.5 million people in Nigeria, and films being produced by the Nigerian Film Unit were screened for free at the 44 available cinemas. The first film entirely copyrighted to the Nigerian Film unit is Fincho (1957) by Sam Zebba; which is also the first Nigerian film to be shot in colour.


Television broadcasting in Nigeria began in the 1960s and received much government support in its early years. By the mid-1980s every state had its own broadcasting station. Law limited foreign television content so producers in Lagos began televising local popular theater productions. Many of these were circulated on video as well, and a small scale informal video movie trade developed. Nigerian film is thus a video movie industry; Nigerians call them ‘home videos’.


Many point to the 1992 release of Living in Bondage, a film about a businessman whose dealings with a money cult result in the death of his wife, as the industry’s first blockbuster. Since then, thousands of movies have been released. One of the first Nigerian movie to reach international fame was the 2003 release Osuofia In London, starring Nkem Owoh, the famous Nigerian comedic actor. Modern Nigerian cinema’s most prolific auteur is Chico Ejiro, who directed over 80 films in a 5-year period and brags that he can complete production on a movie in as little as three days. Ejiro’s brother Zeb is the best-known director of these videos outside of the country.


The first Nollywood films were produced with traditional analog video, such as Betacam SP, but today all Nollywood movies are produced using digital video technology. Only recently, Time magazine published an article rating the industry as the third-largest after USA’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood.

Nollywood has one studio, Studio Tinapa in Tinapa, Calabar. Most movies, however, are not produced in studios in the Hollywood style. Movies are shot on different locations all over Nigeria.

As at 2008, the Industry’s net worth stood between an estimated worth of $250 and $300 Million dollars. “It is worthy of note that a Global cinema survey, conducted in 2006 by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and released sometime in May 2009, ranked Nollywood as the second largest producing movie body in the world behind Bollywood and ahead of Hollywood based on the numerical data of the movies produced.” Augusta Okon 2010

The origin of the term “Nollywood” remains unclear; the earliest usage of the word was traced to a 2002 article by Matt Steinglass in the New York Times, where it was used to describe Nigerian cinema. It was also noted that Norimitsu Onishi also used the name in a September 2002 article he wrote for the New York Times. The term continues to be used in the media to refer to the Nigerian film industry, with its definition later assumed to be a portmanteau of the words “Nigeria” and “Hollywood”, the American major film hub.

Definition of which films are considered Nollywood has always been a subject of debate. Alex Eyengho defined Nollywood as “the totality of activities taking place in the Nigerian film industry, be it in English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Itsekiri, Edo, Efik, Ijaw, Urhobo or any other of the over 300 Nigerian languages”. He further stated that “the historical trajectory of Nollywood started since the pre and post independent Nigeria, with the theatrical (stage) and cinematic (celluloid) efforts of the likes of Chief Hubert Ogunde, Chief Amata, Baba Sala, Ade Love, Eddie Ugboma and a few others”.


Over the years the term Nollywood has also been used to refer to other affiliate film industries, such as the Ghanaian English-language cinema, whose films are usually co-produced with Nigeria and/or distributed by Nigerian companies. The term has also been used for Nigerian/African diaspora films considered to be affiliated with Nigeria or made specifically to capture the Nigerian audience. There is no clear definition on how “Nigerian” a film has to be in order to be referred to as Nollywood.



Films are about bringing people together and sharing ideas. We watch trailers, connect with our social circles, and then share the cinematic experience. Before the arrival of social media, word of mouth was the only true method of achieving this. As filmmaking and technology progressed together, newer and more modern ways of reaching the public were adopted. Television and the internet expanded that reach to homes across the globe. The most recent permutation can be found in modern social media. Facebook, Twitter, and the mobile phones they’re accessed from all play an important role. Millions are connected and seemingly immediately accessible. Social networks are an excellent location to build awareness and promote a film. Social media was what made it possible for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer to garner over 1 million views in the first 23 minutes of its release.


The internet is filled with clearly defined groups and fandoms that frequently overlap. 20 years ago, marketing a brand new sci-fi film could take significant market research to determine where and when to market it. Social media groups, categories, and hashtags allow you to specifically target a particular demographic with similar interests.


Social media is a vital part of engaging ‘filmgoing’ audiences. The business has always been about who you know and who you can reach, and social media expands your capability to build connections. Engaging your fans directly can build excitement and trust in your projects by making them feel like they are part of the process. With a smart strategy and an open mind, social media can catapult your project into the spotlight.


The emergence of social media has altered the normal way of interaction among friends, family colleagues, students and even business associates (the list is ‘in exhaustive’).

In absence of its constant change and innovations, social media may be considered from applications like snapchat and sites like YouTube through social media networks Twitter, Facebook and other medias. Inasmuch As social media comes with a wide range of advantages and has become a surreal life for some, it has it it’s disadvantages too which will be discussed in this project.




Social media has started to play a big role in Nigeria filmmaking





































 Adesokan, Akin; “Nollywood and the idea of Nigerian cinema”; Journal of African Cinemas 4.1 (2012): 81-98

Ayengho, Alex (23 June 2012). “INSIDE NOLLYWOOD: What is Nollywood?”. E24-7 Magazine. NovoMag.

David, M.K. (2017) The Role Of Social Media In Film Marketing. Available at: (Accessed: 11 January 2018).

Emeagwali, Gloria (Spring 2004). “Editorial: Nigerian Film Industry”. Central Connecticut State University. Africa Update Vol. XI, Issue 2.

Ekenyerengozi, Michael Chima (21 May 2014). “Recognizing Nigeria’s Earliest Movie Stars Dawiya, King of the Sura and Yilkuba, the Witch Doctor”. IndieWire. Shadow and Act.

“History of Nollywood”. Nificon. Archived from the original on 6 September 2013.

Igwe, Charles (November 6, 2015). “How Nollywood became the second largest film industry”.

Onikeku, Qudus. “Nollywood: The Influence of the Nigerian Movie Industry on African Culture”. Academia.

Onishi, Norimitsu (Seputember 16, 2002). “Step Aside, L.A. and Bombay, for Nollywood”. New York Times

 “X-raying Nigerian Entertainment Industry At 49”. Modern Ghana. 30 September 2009.










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