It is only a die hard cynic that will discredit the role our entertainment industry has played and is still playing in the country.
Looking at where the industry was in the last century; how it evolved from the use of celluloid to the current use of high definition video camera, even an unrepentant optimist would have doubted the sector's ability to gain its current global recognition.
According to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, entertainment is any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time, and may also provide fun, enjoyment and laughter. Some of the popular performing arts in Nigeria are musical theatre, comedy, film and music.
There is no doubt that the industry has come of age, and like every adult who must fairly and squarely face up to the constant responsibilities and challenges life will throw at him, the sector apart from contributing to our Gross Domestic Product and creating jobs for Nigerians, must also be a strong partner, if not the main tool for the laundering of our bad image abroad.
Though, there is no specific date that is generally agreed among the players in the movie industry as the date or year motion picture actually began in the country, but credit must go to early pioneers like Herbert Ogunde, Ola Balogun, Eddie Ugboma and so on, because it was their courageous adventures that paved the way for Kenneth Nnebue's "Living in Bondage", the first block-buster movie made for commercial purposes in Nigeria in 1992.
Ever since then, the movie industry has become a money spinner for all manner of persons, ranging from the producers, directors, actors/actresses, script writers, costume designers/artists, studio mangers and studio engineers, camera men, editors and other persons whose services were employed from the pre-production stage, production and post-production stage.
This breakthrough is really worth celebrating! But the challenges must not be ignored because it has not really been easier for players on the field. The cost of producing the average Nigerian film is between $17,000 and $30,000; and it takes between one to three weeks to produce a home video.
Sometimes the qualities of the movies are questioned because of funding problem and expensive equipment.
Investors cannot confidently finance movie production in the country because of piracy and the non- existence of a well-structured distribution network that will make it impossible for some marketers who do not mean well for the industry to determine the fate of a producer. The highlighted problems were part of the reasons President Goodluck Jonathan gave a lifeline of $200 million to the sector in 2010.
However, according to statistics recently released to the public by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, Mr. Robert Orya, the Nigerian film industry is ranked third in the world in terms of revenue generation. In the last three years, 'Nollywood' as the Nigerian movie industry is popularly known, generated about $800 million revenue.
The industry has a regulatory body that approves what Nigerians watch, and it is called the National Films and Videos Census Board, NFVCB. Between 2008 and 2010, about 7,543 titles were produced in the country; 2,408 titles were produced in 2008; 2,514 titles were produced in 2009 and 2,621 titles were produced in 2010.
The business of making movies is majorly done in English and four Nigerian languages in this percentage profile: English--44 percent; Yoruba--31 percent; Hausa - 24 percent and Igbo -1 percent.
The global market value of the film and entertainment industry is about $906 billion according to 2010 reports, and it has been projected that by the end of this year, it will rise to about $102.7 billion.
On the whole, North America has the largest market share of 40 percent, followed by Europe, Middle East and Africa which accounted for 24 percent of the global market share index. The next on the line is Latin America with 20 percent market share, while Asia Pacific accounted for just three percent.
Nonetheless, it is not enough for our movies to project our lifestyles, cultures, fashions, diverse religions and other trendy issues in the country, but it should also be pro-active by using positive imaginations in unveiling some innate opportunities lying fallow in the country. It should also fight against the moral decadence in the society.
Above all, our entertainment industry should correct the negative impression about Nigerians by foreigners, while at the same time, Nigerians whether in the Diaspora or at home should conduct themselves in the most ethical manner, because laws are ethics codified.
Mr. EDWIN EKENE, a social critic, wrote from Achara Layout, Enugu State