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Did Barbie Really Make Only $66,000 In Nigeria?
Recently, a twitter user quoted a BusinessDay article that calculated earnings for only two weekends and portrayed it as Barbie's total revenue but how factually correct is this?
When it comes to the Nigerian box office earnings, several polarizing truths can exist but one untrue thing is that Nigerians only contributed ₦59.2 million ($66,000) to Barbie’s one billion dollar global earnings. The figure, which is making the rounds on Twitter, only represents the movie’s earnings for two separate weekends calculated as standalone periods.
The truth is that, as of August 6, Barbie has earned a total of ₦147.2 million ($190,693) from 45,080 admissions.
Whenever data like this come up, the conversations are usually centered around the purchasing power of Nigerians and how abysmal it is, especially when Nigerians have to contribute their quota to the earnings of global franchises. Our economy is in the pits so this is not news. Not today, not tomorrow.
It is why when we think of growth, our indices are tailored to represent local realities and their peculiar impacts on the way the market behaves. Film in Nigeria, its markets and revenues have grown and continue to do so on several fronts. What we lack in money is oftentimes compensated for in social engagement and virality. Sometimes, we do both.
Whether or not Nigeria has an interesting relationship with box office revenue is not up for debate and also not entirely tied to purchasing power. There are several factors peculiar to our market, especially the audience’s declining regard for cinema culture as exhibitors struggle to figure out ways to keep them engaged.
Every year, there are films that break through the threshold and make revenues north of N300 million but these films, whether foreign or local, have made very clear efforts to ensure cultural consonance. Barbie’s marketing is ubiquitous and hard to miss, which has helped it maintain the lead in the Nigerian box office two weeks in a row. But make no mistake, it is facing some competition.
The film was released alongside other interesting IPs including Mission Impossible, Oppenheimer and Nigerian title, Orisa. The first week all three titles shared in the box office, Mission Impossible, which was in its own second week, earned ₦50.8 million. Its cumulative was ₦138.04 million from 42,624 admissions across 64 locations.
Barbie earned ₦66.5 million from 20,327 admissions across 58 locations while Orisa earned ₦40.8 million from 14,878 admissions across 58 locations and Oppenheimeer earned ₦26.1 million from 7,818 admissions across 35 locations.
The next week, ending August 3, Barbie earned an extra ₦55.6 million from 16,879 admissions. Mission Impossible earned ₦39.9 million from 12,764 admissions. On the other hand, Orisa earned ₦28.1 million from 12,500 admissions and Oppenheimer earned ₦19.1 million from 5,673 admissions.
As of August 6, while Barbie earned a total of ₦147.2 million ($190,693), Mission Impossible made ₦194.7 million ($251,292), Orisa made ₦82.8 million ($107,252) and Oppenheimer made ₦53.2 million ($68,911).
The real questions are — how much are Nigerians willing to spend within particular periods and how do they choose where that money goes? For years, filmmakers and exhibitors have carried out several experiments in a bid to answer these questions. Let’s look at numbers from the same time period over the years.
In July and August 2021, the Nigeria box office made ₦772.6 million. By the end of August, Fast and Furious 9, which was in its tenth week, was the biggest contributor with ₦233.1 million from 146,640 admissions.
In July and August 2022, the box office made ₦773.56 million. Only about a million more than the previous year. By the end of August 2022, Thor: Love and Thunder, which was in its eighth week, was the highest revenue contributor with ₦355.5 million from 153,284 admissions.
The biggest proof of how much money a film can make in Nigeria remains Black Panther: Wakanda Forever which tore through the threshold and made one billion naira by January 2023. The underlying marketing message landed well with the Nigerian audience. This, coupled with its release in November which coincided with the holiday market wave, gave the film solid revenue edge.
When it comes to how much money films make in Nigeria, the patterns are interesting and sometimes, do not follow the same logic as other sectors. For Barbie, we look forward to seeing where the doll lands.