From Chineze Anyaene's Ijé - The Journey To Biyi Bandele's Half Of A Yellow Sun
Chineze Anyaene's 2010 "Ijé - The Journey" cost $2.5 million and even though the film is still the highest grossing Nigerian film till date, both the returns from the local distributors in Nigeria and others abroad have not been enough to make the director smile to the bank, because the critically acclaimed and multiple award winning student film was not really a financial success.
The much talked about 2013 "Half of A Yellow Sun" by Biyi Bandele is the most expensive and expected Nigerian film, because of the international cast of celebrated Hollywood stars and the prominent local stars even though the most popular Nollywood star in the cast Genevieve Nnaji only appeared in one scene and her cameo is not spectacular enough to attract her legions of fans to the local movie theaters or to even buy copies of the DVD later like "Ijé" that gave her an unforgettable supporting actress role as "Chioma Opara" sister of "Anya Opara Michino" played by the leading actress and current Queen of Nollywood, Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde who gave a stellar performance and the fantastic combination of these two most popular actresses in Nollywood pulled crowds to the cinemas. But I doubt if the celebrated Hollywood stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton can do the same for "Half of A Yellow Sun" in Nigeria where only the middle class and upper class elites know their A-list star power status.
The director, producers and executive producers pinned all their hopes on them, but they forgot that using A-List actors do not always guarantee box office success as we have seen in many Hollywood big budget movies that bombed (flopped) at the box office.
Getting A-List actors cost a lot and betting on them to make a hit movie is a gamble. A hit or miss shot at the bull's eye.
Having A-List actors may attract major distributors for the film, but cannot guarantee puling crowds to the cinemas and that was what happened to "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" by Justin Chadwick. The film with famous Hollywood stars Idris Elba as "Nelson Mandela", Naomie Harris as "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela" cost $35 million, but has not made up to $28 million at the box office, even though it was a hit in South Africa released at the momentous time when the great hero of the biopic Madiba Nelson Mandela passed away.
The local distributors of "Half of A Yellow Sun" in Nigeria have dysfunctional marketing and public relations management and you cannot even see any promo on "Half of A Yellow Sun" on the websites of their few cinemas and I am yet to see the adverts in the press, except for the cheap radio jingles and the poorly promoted trailers on TV. So, Biyi Bandele and his executive producers need prayers for miracles to make their "Half of A Yellow Sun" a commercial success at home and abroad.
~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, Publisher/Editor of Nigerians Report Online and Nigerian Times, the highest ranked Nigerian blog on film and entertainment in the world.