Nigeria gets a movie theater

No, not an open-air cinema, or a DVD player projecting onto a large screen, but rather a real movie theater:

Lagos is the biggest city in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, but until recently it did not even have any cinemas.

Lagos now has its first multi-screen cinema complex – a rarity in Africa

That is all the more surprising given that Nigerians love watching films: the country is famous for its thriving and expanding home-video industry.

Now, however, that has all changed, thanks to the Silverbird Cinemas – an upmarket five-screen Cineplex in the heart of Victoria Island.

The project has faced numerous obstacles:

There were cinemas in Lagos in the 1960s, but they began going out of business in the 1970s – partly because of the difficulties of operating under military dictatorship.

Cinemas closed down across the country and today many are used as Pentecostal churches or Islamic education centres.

But even with Ben Murray-Bruce’s enthusiasm, this was not the easiest project to get off the ground.

Nigeria has an erratic power supply, which means that seven generators have been installed to make sure that the films do not stop mid-show and the air-conditioning does not break down.

Mr Murray-Bruce has also had to convince film distributors that it is safe to send prints to Lagos – a city already awash with pirated DVDs of top Hollywood films.

Here is the full story.

Think about this account next time you hear someone blame the small number of African films on Hollywood or Bollywood cultural imperialism.


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