The Nigerian film industry releases more movies than any other film industry asides Bollywood, but when it comes to cinema sales, we are far behind everyone.
However, Nollywood has grown from being a film industry where producers struggle to make a profit to one in which a movie with loads of laughs, romance, and popular faces can guarantee upwards of 50 million naira in the box office.
The Wedding Party 2 – highest grossing Nollywood movie – made 500 million naira ($1.3 million) from cinema sales and while that’s huge, it is a drop in the ocean compared to other film industries. Bollywood’s highest grossing movie Dangal made $330 million while the Chinese film industry’s biggest hit Wolf Warrior 2 grossed roughly $890,425,500.
This boom in the theatrical sector is somewhat problematic: Indie and non-comedy movies have so far struggled in the local box office. With Kemi Adetiba’s audacious King of Boys and Izu Ojukwu’s 76 being the noteworthy exceptions.
The 10 highest grossing Nollywood Movies of all Time
These figures may not be accurate since they were announced by the film producers and not an independent body as obtainable in Hollywood or Bollywood.
Update: the Cinema Exhibitor Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the association of all cinema owners of the country, in partnership with COMSCORE, has taken the Nigerian box office public. Henceforth, you can get all box office details on their website.
1. The Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai (2017) – ₦500 Million
The Wedding Party 2 was bigger in every aspect than its prequel; a bigger budget (it cost ₦300 million), a bigger cast, and a bigger profit.
TWP2 has the best opening day in Nollywood, racking in ₦20 million on its first day, and currently leads the list of highest-grossing Nollywood movies.
The Wedding Party 2 is a romantic comedy focused on the romance and turbulent wedding between Nonso (Enyinna Nwigwe) and Deardre (Daniella Down). Nonso accidentally proposed to Deardre during a date in Dubai and after the catastrophic traditional wedding in Lagos, the families of the couple decided to take the wedding to Dubai.
TWP2 is jointly produced by EbonyLife Films, FilmOne, Inkblot Productions, and Koga Studios.
Cast: Enyinna Nwigwe, Daniella Down, Richard Mofe Damijo, Olubankole ‘Banky W’ Wellington, Adesua Etomi, Ireti Doyle, Sola Sobawole, Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama, Ikechukwu Onunaku, Beverly Naya, and Zainab Balogun.
The Original Wedding Party, directed by Kemi Adetiba, was a game changer. It had the biggest opening day in cinema, making a whopping 9.6 million naira on its first day. A record bettered only by its sequel and the riveting King of Boys.
The movie follows the up and downs of planning a high-class wedding in Nigeria; exploring everything that could go wrong when a reformed playboy from a high-class Igbo family weds a virgin from a not-so-high class Yoruba family.
Chief Daddy is a star-studded comedy from Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife Films. The movie which was marketed as a holiday movie was the fifth feature from EbonyLife Films and it is their 300 million grosser; following The Wedding Party 1 & 2.
Chief Daddy tells the story of Billionaire industrialist Chief Beecroft, a flamboyant benefactor to a large extended family of relatives, household staff and assorted mistresses. Chief lives large, like there’s no tomorrow, until the day he dies suddenly and the bullion van stops.”
Cast: Falz, Funke Akindele, Nkem Owoh, Kate Henshaw, Rachel Oniga, Patience Ozokwor, Linda Ejiofor, Mawuli Gavor, Dakore Akande, Richard Mofe-Damijo, and Joke Silva.
Kemi Adetiba’s crime drama, King of Boys, follows the story Businesswoman cum underworld boss, Alhaja Eniola Salami.
She is a pillar of society; loved by many, feared by most, and truly known by a select few.
As Alhaja Eniola chases political power, she loses her stronghold over the underworld with a younger associate, Makanaki (played to a T by Reminisce), challenging her for the throne.
King of Boys is a rarity in Nollywood, there are very few films that can boast of critical acclaim and commercial success in the industry. It is also Kemi Adetiba’s second movie to gross over 200 million naira in the Nigerian box office, she is the only director to have done so.
Cast: Sola Sobowale, Adesua Etomi, Remilekun “Reminisce” Safaru, Paul Sambo, Toni Tones, illbliss, Akin Lewis, Osas Ajibade, Sharon Ooja, Jide Kosoko, and Demola Adedoyin.
Merry Men tells the story of Abuja most eligible and notorious bachelors – Remi Martin (Falz), Naz Okigbo (Jim Iyke), Ayo Alesinloye ( Ramsey Noah), and Amaju Abioritsegbemi (Ay). Borrowing from the Robinhood story, the Merry Men uses their charm to attract powerful women, land huge contracts, take from the rich and give to the poor.
Merry Men is Ay’s fifth movie as a producer and it is the most successful. It has the second-best opening weekend for a Nollywood movie, has grossed 230 million Naira nationwide, and recently landed a cinema release in the UK.
The UK cinema release also meant reviews from UK film publications. The Guardian tagged it as “a cheerful comedy, lost in translation.” Typical of a Nollywood blockbuster, lots of laughs sprinkled over a slapdash plot.
Cast: Falz The Bhad Guy, Jim Iyke, Ramsey Noah, Ayo ‘AY’ Makun, Nancy Isime, and Ireti Doyle.
The second installment of AY’s Akpos adventure was not popular within the critics’ circle – YNaija! Film Blog says “it tries too hard to be funny.” However, it was a hit among moviegoers. The movie made 178 million naira from cinema sales.
Cast: Ay Makun, Funke Akindele, Dan Davies, Nse Ikpe Etim, and Eric Roberts.
30 Days in Atlanta was filmed in locations in Atlanta and Nigeria. This movie was AY’s crossover to the big screens. Writing for YNaija! Film Blog, film critic Wilfred Okichie says it shows the comedian “forward thinking capacity to evolve as a creative.”
The original Akpos story had loads of laughs and was a huge box office hit. It is the first Nigerian movie to hit 100 million naira in cinema sales.
Cast: Ramsey Noah, RMD, Vivica A. Fox, Desmond Elliot, Omoni Oboli, and Majid Michael.
Director: Robert Peters.
9. The Bling Lagosian (2019) – ₦120 Million
The Bling Lagosians follows one of Lagos’ most prestigious families, the Holloways; they cahoot with politicians, dine with the elite, and holiday in exquisite locations abroad. However, the family is in big debt and their reputation is at stake, but Mopelola, the family’s sophisticated matriarch, won’t let allow mere debt to prevent her from having an extravagant birthday party.
Fifty was Mo Abudu’s first executive produced movie and just like her other movies, it is an exhibition of the creamer part of the Lagos society. The drama experienced marketing unlike anything Nollywood has seen before.
Fifty revolves around betrayal, love, and life’s struggles of four women approaching fifty. It was released to mixed reviews – mostly negative reviews – but was applauded for its fine pictures and bold sex scenes. Cast: Dakore Akande, Ireti Doyle, Nse Ikpe-Etim, and Omoni Oboli.
Up North” explores love, friendship, and family politics, all of which collide, creating memories to last a lifetime. It tells the story of a young rebellious heir (Banky W) who gets sent to Bauchi for his NYSC assignment as a punishment for defying his father.