“The Wedding Party” is an anomaly in Nigerian film. A romantic comedy directed by Kemi Adetiba, the film follows the shenanigans that go on during the planning of a wedding in Nigeria. Dunni, a 24-year-old art gallery owner and only daughter of her parents is about to marry the love of her life, IT entrepreneur Dozie. The couple took a vow of chastity and are looking forward to their first night together as a married couple. However, between matchmaking attempts within the bridal party, a wedding planner on a mission to succeed, the unruly behavior of some guests as well as, Dunni’s uncertainty about her new husband’s faithfulness during their courtship, Dunni and Dozie might not make it through their wedding reception unscathed.
Imagine the marketing power of AMC Theatres, Oprah, BET and two production companies coming together to make, distribute and promote one film. That’s basically what happened with “The Wedding Party.” The film has become the highest-grossing film in the history of the Nigerian box office, making over N200m within weeks of its December 2016 release. It pulls in ahead of its closest Hollywood rival “Fast and Furious 7’”at $1.2 million
Those numbers may seem like a drop in the bucket, in comparison to the billions of dollars Hollywood films make but consider this, in 2016 the Naira collapsed against the US Dollar by 85% and Nigeria fell into a deep recession with its GDP tumbling from a high of $569 billion in 2015 to $481 billion in 2016. In fact, if “The Wedding Party” had been released in 2015 the same year as “Fast and Furious 7,” it’s box office take would be around $2.7 million today. Furthermore, the whole of Nigeria has just 135 screens, serving a population of nearly 190 million people, which is the largest population in Africa and the 7th largest in the world. Comparing those screen ratios with South Africa which has 800 screens serving a population of 55 million and the UK which has 3,947 screens serving a population of 65 million, tells us that, Nigeria’s film industry has enormous potential for domestic growth.
Right now, Nollywood is still trying to win over skeptics who have reservations about seeing films in the cinema. These are the people who see 5 -6 films every month but are hesitant to make any of those choices a Nollywood film. Despite all of this, it’s evident that the collaboration approach has brought a bountiful harvest. As the saying goes “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”
“The Wedding Party” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall.