Nigerians love weddings, so it was no surprise that in 2016 a light-hearted film about two different Nigerian families brought together at a wedding took the Nigerian box office by storm.
The film, Wedding Party, grossed about 3.5 billion naira, roughly $11.5m, and bolstered the popularity of its leading man, singer Banky Wellington – better known as Banky W – and co-star Adesua Etomi.
A subsequent deal with online movie-streaming platform Netflix to add the film to its catalogue has also added to its profits. It certainly helped that life glamorously found itself imitating art when Banky W and Etomi walked down the aisle to become husband and wife the following year.
INTERNATIONAL CULTURE CLASH
The success of the Wedding Party has now spawned a sequel that is turning out to be even bigger and more successful than the original. According to its producers, Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai had the biggest-ever opening day in the United Kingdom for a Nollywood film, grossing more than £15,000.
While the first Wedding Party focused on the culture clash between an Igbo and Yoruba family, Wedding Party 2: Destination Dubai features a much more international and interracial clash of cultures that resonates with a UK audience. It’s a feature that puts it in a genre with a crop of Nigerian films such as romantic comedy Isoken, tackling the same issues.
DEMAND FOR AFRICAN CONTENT
“The wedding party franchise shows the opulence of our culture and the vibrancy of it as well, in a fun and playful way,” says Ibrahim Waziri, head of business development for EVCL, a company that also produces African media content for distribution internationally.
Waziri says the movie’s success also has to do with the support it has received from Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, a reference to the mix of skills in the ELFIKE Film Collective that brought the film to screen.
African companies looking to produce hits as big as the Wedding Party franchise need to harness both social media and influencers close to Diaspora communities, says Waziri: “I think there is a growing demand for African content, and more people want to see stories coming out of Africa, so there is room for growth.”