Everybody seems to know the history of Nollywood Movies, even non Nigerians can tell you a bit of when they think Nigerians movies started taking shape. 

However, we have gone to the archives to dig out some hard-to-believe facts about Nollywood and movies of Nigerian origin. Come with us as we serve you interesting Nollywood facts and figures you most likely haven’t come across before. 

Before we get into the facts and figures, there is a part of Nollywood movies that is often not talked about -when and how Nigerian movies got started.

Though there were a couple of films made in Nigeria pre-independence, record has it that the real pioneers of what we know as Nollywood movies today were Hubert Ogunde and Moses Olaiya (aka Baba Sala) who took to movie production majorly for the cinemas, in the early 1970’s.

Home videos brought Nigerian movies back to mainstream in early 1990’s. Regardless, a lot had gone down along the line before VHS tapes became one of the most popular household items back in the days.

1. History of Nollywood Movies -First Ever Blockbuster

Did you know that neither The Figure nor The Wedding Part (1&2) were Nollywood’s first ever blockbuster movies? Yes, not even AY Makun’s A Trip to Jamaica. 

Papa Ajasco (and Company) was actually Nollywood’s blockbuster and highest grossing movie. It was produced and released as a feature film by Wale Adenuga Productions in 1984 with the name The Ajasco Family . It was later released as family comedy on TV in 1996.

Papa Ajasco became Nollywood’s first high grossing film by raking in whooping ₦61,000 as at 1984 (which was approximately ₦21,552,673 by 2015 conversion rate).

2. History of Nollywood Movies -Nollywood’s First Home Video

Did you know that Nollywood’s first ever (direct to video) home video was Living in Bondage? The horror film centered around money rituals created a new path for Nigerian movies when it came out in 1992. 

Living in Bondage which was directed by Chris Opi Rapu had Kanayo O. Kanayo and Francis Agu play lead roles. It was not only blockbuster but also a trendsetter as it marked the beginning of supernatural horror stories in Nigerian as well as African movies. 

History of Nollywood Movies -Living in Bondage 1 and 2

Ramsey Nouah secured the rights to Living In Bondage from Kenneth Nnebue for a possible remake  to be filmed in Europe, America and Nigeria in 2015. The last we heard about the remake of Living in Bondage earlier this year was that Living in Bondage: Breaking Free was still in production phase. 

3. History of Nollywood Movies – First Nigerian Movie to Make a Million Dollars

Did you know the first Nollywood movie to make more than $1 million locally? 

The Wedding Party 1 (produced by Mo’ Abudu’s EbonyLife TV) came through in 2016 to shatter many tables in the history of Nollywood movies. One of the records it broke and set was passing the golden N400M mark made locally by a Nigerian movie.

Going to the cinema to see movies was more of a luxury than a regular fun idea as at 2016 due to the economic situation in the country. But, against all odds, The Wedding Party pushed the boundaries to not only make massive turnover but also set lots of new records that many movie makers still aim to break till date. 

The Wedding Party hit the cinemas in Nigeria after its World Premiere in Toronto Film Festival at a time when A Trip to Jamaica was still basking in the euphoria of being Nigeria’s highest grossing movie of all time. 

4. History of Nollywood Movies – First Nigerian Movie on Netflix

Did you know that Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart was the first original Nollywood film on Netflix? 

Although, Netflix had previously licensed The Wedding Party and october 1. Lionheart was the first Nigerian movie Netflix bought its worldwide rights. 

How Genevieve attained such height with Lionheart is something to really ponder upon. Why? 

  • Lionheart was Geneveive’s first shot at directing a movie
  • She cast old school Nollywood stars like Kanayo O. Kanayo
  • She shot the movie in Enugu instead of Lagos where most movies are shot
  • Lionheart was 70% local dialect which is rare in modern day Nollywood films.

5. History of Nollywood Movies – First Movie Ever Made in Nigeria

Did you know the first movie ever made in Nigeria was titled Palaver? It was shot in 1926, in North East region and of course in black and white. 

Although, Palaver was made in Nigeria, its full credit goes to a British filmmaker known as George Barkas. It was shot as an examination of Britain’s interaction with Nigeria’s primitive cultures as it primarily featured the Sura and Anga tribes from Bauchi Plateau. 

Though it was a groundbreaking feat in history of Nollywood movies, the plot of the film has been largely unpopular because of how it portrays Nigerians as crude people whose only means of expression was through guns, spears, bows and arrows.

Nollywood may not have reached the great heights most of its fans had envisaged over the years, it sure has grown in leaps and bounds through the years despite lack of adequate funding and support structure from relevant institutions. 

Hope you have learnt one or two new things about history of Nollywood. Share your thoughts, questions and observations in the comment box. 

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