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Funke Akindele Saves Nigerian Cinemas Again
Funke Akindele's 'Battle on Buka Street' beats Funke Akindele's 'Omo Ghetto' to become the highest-grossing Nigerian film ever.
This week, Akindele has broken her own record with Battle On Buka Street grossing an estimated ₦640,000,000, according to data from Comscore. It is a few millions more than the gross of Omo Ghetto: The Saga, making it the highest-grossing Nigerian film ever. Akindele has again saved the dwindling cinema returns two years after.
In 2020, while the cinemas struggled to stay open post-COVID, Omo Ghetto: The Saga opened with ₦124 million, a sum most high-profile films were lucky even to finish their cinema run with pre-pandemic. She saved the cinemas raking in ₦468,036,300 in four weeks, and the film went on to make ₦636,129,120—becoming the highest-grossing Nigerian film at the time. It has now been edged out of the top spot by the latest Akindele flick.
This feat has generated excitement across the industry. Her distribution partner, FilmOne Entertainment, was full of adulation on Instagram. “If the only competition you have is yourself was a person, it is clearly [Funke Akindele],” the post reads. “What a Woman. What a Movement. What a Movie. What an Achievement. Not once but twice she has set a record, and she has broken her record.”
Amid all the excitement, there are questions: how does she win?
Akindele is no stranger to the industry. From her days as a young actress and steady transformation into a studio boss, she has held on to her niche and improved it. While others continued experimenting with several genres and subgenres, she curated and cemented her film community with the series Jenifa, where she plays the titular character. Her other projects have been tailored in similar directions.
There are three main elements to a successful Funke Akindele cinema run:
The story: The distinguishing factor in an Akindele-owned production is the story. She strays from pretty stories with the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge and leans into rough-edged characters in gritty and unflashy worlds. It is the running element in the beloved Jenifa, its many spin-offs and her recent blockbusters: Omo Ghetto and Battle On Buka Street.
Her audience has come to identify her with these stories, which are told in simple, relatable forms. Akindele sells relatability, whether it is in a young woman whose English is poor and acts as a barrier to her many schemes; the lives of Nigerians in the ghetto as they hilariously navigate the layers of society; or the lives of women from different major Nigerian tribes, who struggle with patriarchy to find their places in their small world.
Akindele’s characters never really look like they don’t belong in the places she puts them in, and the audience can see elements of them in their neighbours and friends. The films are guaranteed to make you laugh, not think too much and are almost predictable enough to assure the audience value for money. No-one goes to watch any of her projects expecting more than they actually get. It is consistent enough to build massive trust.
Find out the other major elements in the February 2023 edition of The Industry. Click the link, download to get answers and more data on doing business in Nollywood.
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