‘A Tribe Called Judah’ becomes first Nollywood’s film to hit N1bn

Every week since its release on 15 December 2023, ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ has broken a record: the biggest weekend opening in Nollywood; the largest opening for a female director ever; the highest grossing Nollywood film ever. It has now become the first Nollywood film to reach the N1 billion mark domestically according to reports.

The movie has already grossed N1 billion nationwide in 3 weeks and will soon surpass Black Panther; Wakanda forever which barely crossed the billion naira mark after 16 weeks at the box office.

On January 2 2023, just over 2 weeks after its release the movie made history as it became the highest grossing Nollywood film ever with a reported N854 million at the box office. This surpassed her previous films ‘Battle on Buka Street’ (N668.4 million), and’ Omo Ghetto: The saga’ (N636.1 million) which now currently sits as the second and third highest grossing film in the Nigerian box office respectively.

With a box office earnings of N400 million within just 12 days, the movie set a new standard in the industry. Notably, it secured the record for the biggest weekend opening in Nollywood, amassing over N122 million at the box office.

As of 30th December, 2023, the movie made over N728M which made it officially the highest grossing Nollywood film. According to the Nigeria Box Office on X, ‘A Tribe called Judah’ grossed ₦55M – ₦75M a day during the festive period.

The movie also became the 4th movie in the history of Nigerian cinemas to gross over N376 million in their first two weeks; Wakanda Forever (2022): N499.6 million, SpiderMan: No Way Home (2021): N475.7 million, Avengers: Endgame (2019): N407 million.

Despite fans’ excitement over the impressive box office figures, there remains a skepticism about Funke Akindele’s success, with some finding it hard to believe the reported numbers. The doubts arise from suspicions that the figures might be fabricated. However, a closer look at the actual admission numbers for the movie provides a clear explanation for its remarkable performance.

According to CEAN, the body responsible for the collation of box office numbers, in less than 3 weeks, A Tribe Called Judah with 231,053 admissions surpassed admission records of blockbusters such as Sugar Rush (229,060) which had a 13-week run, and King of Boys (220,565) which had a 17-week run at the box office. Experts are predicting that before its final run at the cinemas, the film could break Omo Ghetto’s admission record of 449,901.

During the festive season, the average ticket price for watching the movie in regular cinemas is N6000, while it goes up to N7000 at IMAX cinemas. Considering the substantial number of admissions and multiplying it by these ticket prices, it becomes evident that the film’s ability to surpass a billion in record time is a straightforward outcome.

In the midst of the economic crisis Nigerians still found time to go to the cinema this festive period as from 1st – 31st December 2023, the Nigerian Box office earned over N1.65 billion and sold over 461,000 tickets. About 88 percent of the business came from the 15th – 31st of December according to Nigerian Box Office on X.

The December period saw an influx of Nigerians living abroad who came back to celebrate the festive season with families they had left behind in search of greener pastures. This influx of these set of people fondly called ‘I Just Got Backs’ or IJGBs for short however must have affected the numbers as a lot of these returnees especially in Lagos turn up at concerts, cinemas and other entertaining spots to get a feel of home after staying away for a long time.

In 2020 her film Omo Ghetto: The Saga raked a whooping N636.1 million setting a new record for the highest grossing movie during that period. Not long after in 2022, the release of her next film ‘Battle on Buka Street’ a comedy drama film saw her break her own record as the movie earned N668.4 making her one of two filmmakers to reach and surpass the N1 billion gross at the box office and the only one to do it with just two movies.

Akindele has been lauded for her effective marketing skills as the key to her movie’s success at the cinema by captivating audiences with compelling trailers, strategic social media campaigns, and promotional materials.

Her well thought promotion not only generates widespread anticipation but also establishes a strong connection between the audience and the film, ensuring a packed cinema hall and a huge cinematic debut.

With a social media following of over 16 million followers on Instagram alone,(the third most followed woman in Nigeria) the award winning actor has contributed to the appeal of her films as she has consistently proven to serve her audience with quality films with good story telling.

Hailing from the southwestern region of Nigeria, Funke Akindele’s films predominantly resonate with audiences from that geographic area, proving advantageous for her. This alignment is particularly significant considering that the South West region holds 57 percent of the total 81 cinemas in Nigeria, as reported by Statista.

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