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Post-independence, the likes of Ola Balogun, late Hubert Ogunde, Eddie Ugbomah, Adeyemi Afolayan a.k.a Ade Love (Kunle Afolayan’s father), Ladi Ladebo, Moses Adejumo a.k.a Baba Sala all made movies till the 1980s. These men made movies like Kongi’s Harvest, Aiye, Jaiyesimi, Orun Mooru etc., although their several movies actually never made much profit mainly because of the high cost of production; they had considerable showing at the cinemas during this period and Nigerians had very limited choice aside going to the cinema for their movie entertainment. But in the 80’s many Nigerians were opting to watch Chinese and Indian films at the cinemas, with the late legend Bruce Lee, and Indian actors such as Dharmendra Singh Deol and Amitabh Bachchan thrilling the audience with outstanding combat sound/special effects, cinematography, romantic themes and sometimes good story lines. Gradually, Nigerian-made movies started to suffer at the cinema and gradually left the cinema showing for mainly foreign movies. This went on until 1984 when Alade Aromire produced the first made-in-Nigeria home video titled “Ekun.” The production of “Ekun” on VHS format opened a new chapter in the evolution of home video film industry in the country. And in 1992, the release of the straight-to-video movie “Living in Bondage” by NEK Video Links owned by Kenneth Nnebue considerably expanded the home video market in Nigeria, and signaled the dearth of Nigerians going to the cinema to watch Nigerian films. With the re-emergence of several of cinema houses in Nigeria such as Silverbird, Filmhouse, Genesis and others, Nigerian movies are making a strong comeback to the cinemas with Nigerians going to the cinemas to watch Nigerian movies even as they still watch movies from Hollywood. In the last five years, a good number of good movies have been made in Nigeria but we have five of them we believe are the highest grossing at the cinema. The lack of verifiable data means one has to string lots of information together to get it right, but we are sure these five films still remain the highest grossing till date.   5. LAST FLIGHT TO ABUJA Last-Flight-to-Abuja-poster The 2012 Nigerian thriller film written by Tunde Babalola, directed and produced by Obi Emelonye, and starring Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Jim Iyke was shot in Lagos with a budget of about ₦40 million. The film received 5 nominations at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards and won an award for the category of best film by an African based abroad. “Last Flight To Abuja” was praised for its brilliant cinematography and music score, but most critics knocked it for the computer generated imagery and visual effects which they claimed was not up to the hype. The movie grossed ₦8,350,000 in its opening weekend and went ahead to gross ₦24,000,000 in its first week. The recorded domestic gross for the movie stands at ₦57, 050,000.     4. IJÉ  IJE Ijé is a 2010 Nigerian drama film written by Samuel Tilson and Chineze Anyaene, produced by Paula Moreno and Chineze Anyaene, and directed by Chineze Anyaene; starring Genevieve Nnaji, Odalys García and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. The movie was shot in the United States and Nigeria (for most flashback scenes) with a budget of $2.5 million (estimated). The movie won a number of awards and was part of the official selection for the first Nollywood Week Paris Film Festival in France in 2013; only seven films from Nigerian directors made the list. The recorded domestic gross for Ijé is ₦59, 800, 000.   3. OCTOBER 1  October-1-World-Premiere-28-September-2014-AlabamaU2-02 October 1 is a 2014 dark-psychological thriller film written by Tunde Babalola, produced and directed by Kunle Afolayan, (son of the late Adeyemi Afolayan a.k.a Ade Love) starring Sadiq Daba, Kayode Olaiya, David Bailie, Kehinde Bankole, and Kanayo O. Kanayo amongst others. The movie was shot at the old Railway Quarters in Lagos, Akure and Ilara-Mokin, a small village in Ondo State, with a budget of about ₦330 million. October 1 was the film with most awards at the 2014 Africa International Film Festival, also winning 9 awards out of 12 nominations at the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. Recorded domestic gross for October 1 at the cinemas is approximately ₦60 million, though in an interview with Nigerian Entertainment Today in February 2015, Kunle Afolayan also disclosed that the film had made over ₦100 million in 6 months including special screening.   2. 30 DAYS IN ATLANTA  30 days 30 Days in Atlanta is a 2014 Nigerian romantic comedy film produced by Ayo Makun starring Ramsey Nouah Ayo Makun, RMD, and Desmond Elliot amongst others. It was directed by Robert Peters.The film was shot on locations in Lagos and Atlanta. Although the film was met with mixed to negative critical reception, it got several nominations and it amazingly grossed N76 million in 7 weeks of showing on cinema screens across Nigeria. Recorded domestic gross for “30 Days In Atlanta” is ₦137,200,000.   1. HALF OF A YELLOW SUN  Half-of-a-Yellow-Sun-March-2014-BellaNaija Half of a Yellow Sun is a 2013 Nigerian historical fiction film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Onyeka Onwenu, Genevieve Nnaji, OC Ukeje, John Boyega and others, and directed by Biyi Bandele. The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a love story that follows two sisters who are caught up in the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. Half of a Yellow Sun was shot mainly in Tinapa Studios, Calabar and Creek Town, Nigeria with a budget of about ₦1.3 – 1.6 billion. “Half of a Yellow Sun” which received mixed reception from critics but got several international nominations and international screenings also broke Nigerian Box Office record in its first weekend. Recorded domestic gross for the movie is ₦340 million.  

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This article was first published on 11th August 2015


Chris Bamidele is a passionate and unapologetic Nigerian, who believes in God and humanity. He is a writer, blogger, and an aspiring Television Director; and an optimist to the core. He blogs at and tweets @Chrisbamidele.

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