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Are Box Office Results in Nigeria a Reflection of Xenophilia?

Foreign movies always smile to the bank when they open. It seems Nigerians prefer them to domestic movies.
August 31, 2022
1:24 pm

Xenophilia, the antonym of xenophobia, is the attraction, love, and appreciation for foreign goods, people, customs, and traditions. It is a mentality that steadily slips into the hearts and minds of people in a country or community, and it is very hard to erase.


What connection has xenophilia with the box office, though? Well, it is Nigerians’ attitude towards locally made films. Statistics have shown that foreign films dominate box office opening weekends in the country since movie lovers seem to prefer watching a foreign film on the big screen to a Nollywood production.


This report tracks down the truth or fallacy of the above statements using statistics gotten from the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the official board that provides up-to-date and impartial box office information, using numbers and records gotten from cinemas nationwide.



From Aug.5 to Aug.7, the Brad Pitt-led action flick Bullet Train bowed at number one at the box office, dethroning former leader Thor: Love and Thunder. The Sony Pictures-distributed action-comedy made its Nigerian debut on Aug.5 and it already skyrocketed to the top of the charts, grossing a whooping #16, 674, 916 nationwide. These are first weekend numbers but they are impressive nonetheless because the film did not make a slow climb to the top spot like others. So far, the film has declined in grossing power, bringing in a total of #9, 488,113 as of the weekend of Aug. 19 to Aug.21 and it has been bumped down to the second spot by the American survival thriller, Beast.


Marvel movies always make a big splash, shattering box office records worldwide and proving that indeed they are the king of cinematic debuts. Their appeal is partly due to their loyal fanbase and their ability to depict superhero characters that resonate well with their global audience. Thor: Love and Thunder, the twenty-ninth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and its latest project, has grossed $737. 1 million worldwide. It is the sixth-highest grossing film of 2022 and when it premiered at the beginning of July, its opening weekend gathered $303.3 million worldwide, making it the third-largest July debut of all time.



Bringing it back home, per CEAN’s records, the film was already making waves in the country before its official release. It held the number four spot from Jul.1 to Jul.7. This means that people had already started purchasing tickets to see the film long before it premiered. It beat Nigerian films that had already premiered like Nollywood’s former leader King of Thieves and the Dare Olaitan-directed Ile Owo. When Thor finally made its cinematic debut during the weekend of Jul.8 to Jul. 10, the records were absolutely astounding. Not only did it top the leader board, but it also shattered grossing numbers by making a staggering #67,560,320. Minions: The Rise of Gru, which held it down at number two, could not even compete as it grossed only #6.3 million during that weekend.


The Chris Hemsworth-led film is the highest grossing film of July in Nigeria and it did not leave the number one spot for the entire month. It got bumped down to number two with the arrival of Bullet Train. It is still in the top five of the charts.



Before Thor, another Marvel movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness topped the leaderboard for most of May.  Jurassic World Dominion arrived in June and also snatched the number one spot during its opening weekend.


The only Nigerian film thus far that made tremendous strides at the box office was the epic saga King of Thieves. It was released on Apr.8 and it grossed #42, 659,350 during its opening weekend. It made over 170 million in three weeks and it dominated the April charts by not wavering from the top spot. It is also the fifth-highest-grossing Nollywood film of all time and is now available on the streaming service Amazon Prime.


Tiger’s Tail which was expected to make its big number one debut in July unfortunately did not do that because it was up against the big leagues like Thor. It premiered at number two during its opening weekend, but it has seen a steady decline since then. It is no longer in the top ten of the charts.


Join the conversation:

Why are foreign films shattering box office records in Nigeria instead of locally produced ones? Is the answer, ladies and gentlemen, xenophilia?

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