Funke Akindele’s new movie, “Omo Ghetto”, is gaining grounds at an unprecedented speed. Since its premier across cinemas on December 25, 2020, it has been doing exceptionally well and has now emerged as the highest grossing film in the whole of Nigeria. With over N468m, the new milestone has now made “Omo Ghetto: (The Saga)” Nollywood’s highest grossing movie of all time beating that of Kemi Adetiba’s “The Wedding Party” which grossed a staggering N453m.
A statement released by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) revealed that the comedy film has led the Nigerian box office for three weeks in a row since its release on Christmas Day. Sources also have it that the movie raked in over N189 million in the opening week, replacing all the movies to emerge top of chart at the box office. With the critical acclaim it has enjoyed so far, one is tempted to ask how and why it is breaking grounds.
Is there something extraordinary about the movie or is it just a matter of good fortune that has smiled on the “Jenifer’s Diary” star? While the questions appear to keep many in the dark as to the mystery of the huge success “Omo Ghetto” has so far enjoyed, it is particularly expedient to note some particular factors that jointly contributed to the success of this groundbreaking movie and how the success of the movie is shaping the Nigerian movie industry in its entirety.
The movie has gained much acclaim owing to many factors but one of such is the star actress, Funke Akindele. Akindele is one of the most followed Nollywood star. Right from the day she made her debut into the movie scene, the Nollywood star has gathered a large number of following. She is an extraordinary performer whose business sense is arguably unmatched in the industry. Her “Jenifa’s Diary” series alone is arguably the most successful media franchise in Nigeria, and the most popular TV series in Nigeria. This and many more has made her ambassadors for many top brands. The “Jenifa’s Diary” series further endeared her to fans who know better to expect nothing short of engaging, exciting and totally enjoyable content when the name Funke Akindele features in a movie. Almost anything Akindele touches turns to gold. She knows how to hit the right buttons and can be said to have the keys to making anything successful in the industry.
As for “Omo Ghetto”, the MOLFIX ambassador did not only deliver her role in the movie, she completely “killed” it. Critics and enthusiast alike have praised her for interpreting her role so well. Having to play a dual role can be exhausting and boring, but Funke Akindele brought life to both characters of Lefty and Ayomide. She played the role of both characters remarkably well, although they are by attitude and disposition completely different. With her lovable personality and her large following, coupled with her experience and business sense, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the movie is enjoying so much acclaim.
Having her husband, JJC Skills produce the movie, is another build up to the entire success of the movie.
In addition, the fact that the movie was star studded is a high point for the critical acclaim “Omo Ghetto” has enjoyed. Star studded movies usually enjoy some level of patronage in views and reception.
Sometimes, star studded movies end up as a complete flop, but “Omo Ghetto” made extraordinary success not in the preponderance of top stars, but also living up to the hype. The movie did not fail to leave an impression on anybody that sees it. The cast was entirely exceptional and they handled their individual characters with topnotch professionalism.
In this regard, the cast selection is commendable which shows that they weren’t just handpicked for the sake of mesmerizing the audience with the face of superstars. The excellent delivery of the entire cast shows that they were carefully selected to act out roles which were commensurate with their personalities in the execution of the characters (characterization). Lovers of the movie have ascribed their enthusiasm to such characters as Chummy Choko (Chioma Akpotha). Her exceptional role in the movie complemented Funke Akindele’s Lefty character. Many have said the movie would have made little or no interesting buzz if she hadn’t featured in that movie. Can one forget Busty (Eniola Badmus) who in spite of her huge size was always the fearful one?
It has been suggested that the fact that the movie included Nigerians from different tribes and areas of the country is illustrative of the unity the movie strives to inculcate amongst the Nigerian people. This, many believe also contributes to the success the movie has enjoyed so far. Having to see an Igbo character play alongside a Yoruba character was unprecedented, especially when their roles complemented each other in every sense of the word. It was in fact a thing of beauty to see both Funke Akindele and Chioma Akpotha each time they came on a particular scene. They just worked wonders with their character actualization. The movie features Mercy Aigbe and Nancy Isime who are both from Edo State, and many actors from the East including Zubby Michael (Aza Man), Alex Ekubo (Obi Wire), amongst others.
There is the saying that there is no better thing as a perfect timing. The movie “Omo Ghetto” is illustrative of this fact. Funke Akindele like Omah Lay in the music industry would be regarded as one of the success stories of 2020. If there was anything that worked in 2020, widely regarded as one of the most challenging year of all time owing to the COVID-19, it has to be as a result of strategic planning, and this includes timing. While one cannot dispute the possibility of fortune smiling on some people, one cannot dismiss the place of personal efforts in the overall success of man. According to foremost literary critic and writer, Chinua Achebe, “if a man says yes, his ‘chi’ also says yes.”
“Omo Ghetto” could have been released in the first or second quarter of the year but was delayed up until the third quarter. If it had been released earlier, it probably would not have attained much of the height that has now come to be associated with it. The Q1 and Q2 were the most difficult part of the year as the coronavirus swept people off their feet and halted many activities. For most part of the year and following impositions of lockdown measures, people stayed indoors, coupled with the economic meltdown.
Even with the relaxation of lockdown measures and the resumption of activities across the country, the crew could have released the film but decided otherwise right up until December 25, 2020 where things were much more relaxed and cinemas opened across the country. It was also the yuletide season where people found relaxations in all sort of extracurricular activities such as going out to see the movies with loved ones.
Critics have also said that the movie would have gained grounds in online streaming if strong lockdown measures were still in place. They however agree it wouldn’t have gained much acceptance as its premier in the cinemas largely affected the acclaim and positive reviews it has gotten so far.
As credence is being given to the form in terms of character and all the aforementioned, it is important to credit the content of the movie which itself has made it enjoy popular acclaim. The movie is not entirely deep, but is packed with a simplicity that has profound insight. For instance, the movie tries to uncover the whole mystery to prostitution and the extenuating circumstances that lead some ladies into it.
Moreover, “Omo Ghetto” is action packed with a realism that is almost perfect. It has an interesting storyline, which some critics have lampooned as being too obvious. It is argued that the storyline was a major giveaway. It was almost predictable. The life that the different characters brought into it however made it engaging and exciting. The fighting scenes were so real and relatable with a picture and sound quality that is flawless.
The genre of the movie as a comedy is another highpoint. Comedies have now become a sensation in Nigeria. The likes of Crazeclown, Mark Angel Comedy, Sydney Talker, Nasty Black, Tywse, Broda Shaggi, have completely transformed the comedy industry. With the buzz it has received in recent times, one almost cannot afford to go a day without this daily dose. This explains the increase in the number of individuals emerging from the industry, especially on Instagram where many of the highlighted ones gained stardom.
Sponsors and brand owners refer to them to help advertise their products and services. Comedy sells any day and time because everybody needs some level of entertainment that would engage their ribs and make them go into fits of laughter. As a comedy, “Omo Ghetto” did exceptionally well. Almost every scene was designed to provoke laughter. Lefty was funny all step of the way with the way she contorted the English Language.
The overall success of the movie has thus shaken the entire movie industry and exposed it to the opportunities that abound therein if producers, crew members and the entire cast can come up with something as ingenuous. The height for many filmmakers is that if “Omo Ghetto” can achieve what it has achieved with new records every day, especially in a time of economic downturn, then it shows that it takes more than just scripting a movie and acting it out to make a mark.
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“Omo Ghetto” has now become the template for most Nigerian and by extension African filmmakers. The movie has shown that to come up with such a blockbuster, everything has to be carefully stitched from cast selection to the technical and production crew. The energy and synergy of every person involved cannot be overlooked as one bad energy is wont to affect the entire body of work. “Omo Ghetto” has thus proven that the sky is the limit for anything to make progress if the right measures are put in place.
By Andy Charles