April 28, 2020

Box Office Formula: Okpaleke Ushers in Nollywood 3.0

By Obidike Okafor

 

 

 

 

 

Even though there was a period that sequels were a fad in Nollywood, hardly anyone thought about making sequels to old Nollywood classics until Living in Bondage: Breaking Free was released last year.

Charles Okpaleke

The movie, a follow up to the original which marked the emergence of ‘Nollywood’ as we now know it, grossed some ₦168.7Million at the box office. At the 2020 edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA), it won in seven out of its 11 nominations, including the Overall Best Movie in West Africa and the Best Director categories.

Sequels have not totally gone out of fashion because when you check out the top 13 highest-grossing movies at the box office, you will see a pattern.

They include movies and their sequels (AY Makun’s Akpors storyline, Wedding Party and Merry Men), and films whose major theme is driven by comedy.

But there’s a difference between having sequels of “current” movies, and doing follow ups to movies made as far back as 25 to 30 years ago.

So, it seems that Charles Okpaleke whose production company was responsible for Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, is also leading the charge to do reboots for more Nollywood classics.

Currently, he has the intellectual license for ‘Rattlesnake’, ‘Nneka the Pretty Serpent’ and ‘Glamour Girls‘.

Okpaleke, whose debut outing as a movie producer came with Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, may have become, in the process, the catalyst in producing reboots, remakes and sequels to films that formed the bedrock of the present manifestation of the Nigerian movie industry, and has created a new niche that some filmmakers may want to try out.

 These kinds of movies show that Okpaleke either believes in the power of recycling old ideas in new packaging, or he is just interested to find an easy way to the top of the Nollywood food chain, or both.

Who is this dapper looking businessman likely to choose to direct his next movie project?

The question is up in the air.

It is instructive, however, to recall the following quote in his interview with BellaNaija:

“And because I respect Ramsey (Noah)’s body of work as a pacesetting actor, a collaboration of this magnitude made total sense especially because of the richness of his experience in front of the camera, and mine in business and investments — and yet — for the both of us, this project marked our debut as producer and director”.

THE HEART OF REMAKES, REBOOTS or sequels to pre-existing films, is intellectual property. The movies that he has chosen to work with were all hits of the early and mid-1990s. If they were in cinemas now, they would have been high grossing films.

Okpalake decided to take a chance on the nostalgia, and give millennials a reintroduction to Nollywood classics.

Remakes, reboots and sequels to classics are risk-averse strategies for filmmakers and investors, because, they combine the old and the new.

Older generations are familiar with the characters and the plot, millennials get to enjoy classic storylines told with contemporary technology.

Also, it is important that apart from creating nostalgia, big-name actors and a new twist to the plot will go a long way to create the kind of ripple effect that Living in Bondage: Breaking Free got.

In an earlier Instagram post, Okpaleke announced that the next Rattlesnake would be in cinemas by the end of 2020, while Glamour Girls would grace the big screens in December 2021.

Then on April 16, he followed up with a big reveal: the proposed reboot of Rattlesnake, unlike Living in Bondage: Breaking Free, will not be a sequel but a remake.

Rattlesnake will still be a hit even if it is merely freshened up and sold in the exact storyline”, says the actor Chris Iheuwa , who featured in the 1995 movie. “Its potentials have not been exhausted”.

Directed by the late Amaka Igwe, Rattlesnake is considered, in some quarters, as the first action movie made after Nollywood emerged with Living in Bondage.

 It tells the story of a young boy named Ahanna Okolo, who suffers a number of unfortunate events during his childhood, leading him to a life of crime.

The original movie stars Nkem Owoh, Anne Njemanze, Ebele Uzochukwu, Bob Manuel, Okey Igwe, Julius Agwu, Ernest Obi, Ejike Metusaleh, Uche Odoputa, Okey Okoronkwo, Tony One week, Stella Damasus, Genevieve Nnaji and Chris Okotie.

Even when it is remade, and new people are cast in key roles, an inclusion of some of the original cast in the new movie should prop up the sense of nostalgia.

With cinema revenue expected to increase from $12Million in 2018 to $18Million in 2023-not counting the effect of COVID-19-Okpaleke might be on the right track to making box office history.

He could become like AY Makun who currently has five movies (Merry Men 1 and 2, 10 Days in Sun City, A Trip To Atlanta and A Trip To Jamaica) in the top 12 highest-grossing movies at the cinema box office.

Making about ₦990Million from these movies.

If Okpaleke can get a great cast, take the old storyline and make it fresh and relatable to people who never saw the original, he will be cashing out on every remake or sequel, and might even surpass AY Makun’s record.

For Rattlesnake, the movie producer is keeping his winning team and has revealed Nicole Asinugo as the scriptwriter for the film.

 Nicole and C.J. Obasi won a 2020 AMVCA for writing the sequel to Living In Bondage.

Imagine, Living in Bondage, Nneka The Pretty Serpent, Rattlesnake and Glamour Girls all in the top 12 highest-grossing movies in Nollywood.

Okpaleke has shown it is possible.

Once this proves to be a winning formula for Okpaleke other filmmakers might decide to find ways to jump into the train.

Movie lovers are welcome to Nollywood 3.0-remakes, where sequels to Nollywood classics are the new gold standard in Nigerian cinema.

Obidike Okafor writes on the economics of culture production for Bookartville.com. He is the Senior Content Manager at his own firm OBDK Media and part time Communications Manager at Dyslexia Nigeria. An arts journalist and content producer, he has worked for NEXT, and reported for OMENKA Magazine. A widely consulted consultant on Nigerian arts and entertainment, Okafor was awarded art journalist of the year in 2009 by the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) Lagos Chapter, and was a nominee for art journalist of the year 2011 in the Nigerian Art Expo awards.

 

 

 

 

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