Ayo Makun, Nigerian stand-up comedian better known as AY, says repeated use of ritual-laced themes made many Nigerians to lose confidence in Nollywood movies — of the past.

The award-winning comedian disclosed this on Saturday during the ‘meet and greet/free movie viewing’ of ‘Merry Men 2’, his latest project, held at Filmhouse Cinemas in Lekki, Lagos.

He however, noted that Nollywood is presently making concerted efforts towards matching the standard of Hollywood — which is considered the best in the world.

Making reference to ‘Merry Men 2,’ AY said there is now a marked difference between movies produced in the past and those being made now in terms of quality and advanced use of technology.

According to him, such improvement becomes essential given the crave of quality contents among viewers and cinemas across the country.

He added that with the strings of improvements taking root in the country’s movie landscape, it would attract international attention just like the music industry, which is now accepted globally.

“The Nigerian audience love it when they don’t see you coming. When they are not able to predict what you want to do next. One of the things that the industry has suffered is stereotypes,” he said.

“When people hear about Nollywood movies, they simply say ‘Na dem na’, they are going to give us the usual. But when you are among those trying to do something different, people would be eager to see what you have done. And when they go out with a message, a testimony that this is wholesome, it begins to attract everybody and that is what we trying to do.

“This is because quite a lot of damages have been done to Nollywood, especially when they start rating us from the days of like the home videos, and when everything you see is about rituals and the rest. So, a lot of people lost confidence in Nollywood but we are beginning to bring back that culture and then we are doing it in a more advanced format by taking our films to the cinemas.

“For you to put your hands in your pocket and bring out money to say you want to go and see a movie, a Nigerian film, it has to be worth your time, so that alone has put us on our toes, to deliver quality.

“Now, if you look at the Merry Men 2, you’ll notice that it is action-packed, and basically a combination of everything—romance, love, drama and what a view. What is so much important about it is that the story line is well put together, and the interpretation, I would say based on the reviews we have gotten so far, is also very good. And what gives you the confidence that we have done a beautiful work is also the box office ranking recently, which confirms the film to be the highest-grossing film for 2019 into 2020.

“Presently, Nollywood is second in the world to Hollywood, not in terms of quality though but quantity-wise. I think we are getting there. If you notice, our music industry has been able to do that to a great extent. They have been able to go beyond borders and appreciated internationally and Nigerians are now in tune with our own music even more than foreign music. It took time, steps and courage for people to come out and deliver quality content which is now what is happening with Nollywood.

“Gone are the days when people just bring in anything and put it out there all in the name of film. We now have cinemas like Imax, who won’t even look at your film twice if its not good enough to run in the cinemas. Also, producers are now much aware that a wishy-washy kind of production, it wont take you anywhere, the people won’t see it.

“And even if you use politics to put it out there, it won’t still go far, rather, it would only bring embarrassment, so a lot of people now have that awareness, and what that means for us is to sit tight, with the understanding that these people who come out to see our films, they are wiser than what you used to think of them now.

“They know what they want, they understand shots, angles, cinematography and everything about films. These days, the social media analysis that come from people, you understand that the audience are now aware that anything don’t go any longer.

“So, based on that, we are going to give Hollywood a run for their money and I will tell you why. In the Nollywood, they have all the budget in the world, they have the budget of Lagos state to even do a film, whereas, all these noise we have been making and people still appreciates us, is individual producers tapping into their own resources and doing everything.

“By the time we get more cinemas and other necessary things in things in place in the Nollywood, trust me, a lot of investors are going to come in and with the right investment and right channels to introduce our films, we are going to go places.

“That is why I have the confidence that a time will come that we are going to Hollywood a pretty run for their money. We don’t have their budget yet, but if you give us their kind of budget, we are going to do something worthwhile.”



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