In May 2002, the Video Marketers Association of Nollywood shut down the distribution of Nigerian films so that they could try to control production. The market was saturated with poorly produced home videos and marketers were not making profit.
According to Zeb Ejiro who was Head of the Directors Guild at the time, “In the old days, a successful film could sell 100,000, even 200,000 copies. But in December, more than 60 movies came out, and none even sold 20,000.”
In February of that same year, just before the strike began, 54 new movies were released in one day. When the video marketers shut down distribution, the guilds of actors and directors who had their own issues with the state of the Nigerian movie industry soon joined the strike as well.
Kanayo O. Kanayo, one of the most memorable veterans of early Nollywood was head of the Actor’s Guild at the time. He was supportive of the strike and saw it as an opportunity to create structure and support for Nigerian actors through factors like a minimum payment scale, casting agencies, and managers for every actor.
The strike, however, revealed a lot of tension and conflict within the movie industry. The marketers, for example, didn’t support Kanayo’s idea of a minimum payment scale, and the screenwriters barely had a say in the whole matter. But looking back, Nollywood has come a long way since then.
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