Across the country, 50 local films had theatrical releases last year, an all-time high. Both literally and figuratively, says Mkparu, local filmmakers are starting to see the big picture. Historically, the Nigerian film industry has grown from television, he says, noting how the industrys propensity for cropped shots and extreme close-ups is suited to small screens. Now theyre beginning to give a cinematic look and feel to their films. The results were on display in Toronto last year, when Lagos was featured in the festivals annual City to City program. Among the eight films selected were many that would go on to have strong showings at the Nigerian box office, such as courtroom thriller The Arbitration and historical epic 76. But it would be City to City opener The Wedding Party that would make the biggest splash back home. Following its Toronto world premiere, the film arrived on Nigerian screens just weeks after comedian A.Y.s A Trip to Jamaica had itself become the highest-grossing Nigerian film of all time. Over the holiday season, despite stiff competition from the likes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Wedding Party continued to break records. Mkparu notes that the films success was just indicative of a broader trend, where audiences are starting to choose Nigerian films as their first choice at the theater. Partly that owes to savvier filmmaking. While budgets have risen in recent years, so has an awareness that selling a film begins with scriptwriting and casting.
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