Nigerian actor, comedian and producer, Ayo Makun’s “Almajiri” movie struggles at the Nigerian Box Office due to lack of proper marketing.
According to data from the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the new film, which opens in Nigerian theatres on June 23, 2023, only brought in 5,425,050 across 54 locations during the weekend.
When compared to previous 2023 releases like Domitilla: The Reboot, which debuted with 10 million, and The Kujus Again, which made 17 million in its first week, this is low even by Nigerian standards.
AY has established himself as the Nollywood Box Office King over the years by continuously releasing films that are financially rewarding.
His most recent picture, Christmas in Miami (2021), had one of the all-time best domestic box office hauls with a total of N265,583,000.
Prior projects, Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons (2018) and Merry Men 2: Another Mission (2019), brought in ₦235,628,358 and ₦234,505,169, respectively.
The official trailer and character posters for the movie were released the day before it was to be released, but it was not enough time to generate the type of buzz that new projects, especially non-comedies, require.
Even with 13 million followers, sharing only movie trailers, clips, and the movie schedule is a poor strategy for motivating people to leave their homes and spend money on a new movie in the current climate.
When the movie first came out, we could not help but notice the lack of mainstream advertising.
Not much has been done to advertise the project other than a few clips on AY’s Instagram page and a one-day paid Twitter campaign over the weekend.
It’s perplexing to see this lacklustre rollout for someone who typically excels with his ventures.
The topic is another consideration. In the past, the comedian has found success by remaining true to his craft and producing comedy; this time, however, he decided to raise awareness of the horrific hardships endured by Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria.
Almajiri features two small children who were taken from their parents by Alhaji Makarfi and is based on actual events. They deal with chronic disease, abuse, trafficking, drug addiction, poverty, violence, and various forms of child slavery while they are in his “care.”
While there is no doubt that this is a crucial issue, comedy consistently does well at the domestic box office, so it should go without saying that choosing to tell this narrative should have been accompanied by a massive marketing expenditure.
The filmmaker’s choice to draw attention to this troubling issue is still meriting praise, as shown by the recognition the film received at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (TINFF) and the 2022 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), where it won twelve awards, before its release.
Directed by Toka McBaror and co-produced by Darlington Abudu, the movie stars Alex Ekubo, Annie Idibia, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Segun Arinze, Ali Nuhu, Rahama Sadau, Sani Danja, Broda Shaggi, and AY.