Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Ije made N59.8 Million at Cinemas – Producer


Ahead of next week’s release of her film, Ije, on DVD, director and producer, Chineze Anyaene, speaks with PUNCH newspaper on the journey so far

The feat that Chineze Anyaene achieved with her maiden film, Ije, is rare. Many movie lovers fell for the story that features two star actresses, Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, otherwise regarded by many as industry rivals. The fruit of Anyaene’s effrontery is that Ije has emerged one of the highest-earning films at the cinema, beating even several foreign films that normally sway the hearts of Nigerian cinema goers.

As at the last summary, Ije netted N59.8m, apart from a few other millions from special screening that she did in some parts of the country. While the management of  cinema houses that include Ozone Cinema, Yaba, Lagos  have affirmed some of the statistics that made up the figure, the producer, who studied Theatre Arts at the University of Abuja and film at the New York Film Academy, US, is also forthcoming about financial information on Ije’s experience at the box office.
Apparently influenced by her adventures abroad, where film makers do not hoard details of the earnings of their works, Anyaene explains that tax (in various forms) took 20 per cent of the money while the cinemas took half of what remained.

Despite her success, however, she is far from getting carried away. Unlike many of her colleagues who,  in the circumstance,  get soaked in the kind of euphoria Ije has sparked, Anyaene  has exploited the success as an opportunity to work harder. According to her, the greatest bane of Nollywood revolves around practitioners who make razzmatazz a ‘compulsory course’.

She says, “Ije has not affected me in any negative way. It has only taught me to be more hardworking. I am more of the behind-the-scene person. I do not have much time to spend endlessly taking photographs or walking up and down the red carpet. I have my own time for recreation and networking but film making is show business. The business has to be more than the show. Even if not for anything, artistes have to promote the industry. The industry has promoted them. The best way to reward it and do better for themselves is to step up work on all aspects of professionalism.”


Anyaene says it is only Nollywood that can redefine and reinvent itself. She wants her colleagues to appreciate the need to believe in themselves and be more businesslike at every stage of production and marketing. She, for instance, wonders why many practitioners just advertise premieres and not cinema and DVD releases.

On what worked well for Ije, she says it is 30 per cent creativity and 70 per cent hard work.

Even in the past few months when she appears to have slowed down, she has been busy building structures for the DVD release of the film – slated for December 3 – and for a larger role she intends to play in the industry. Considering the way she outlines her plans for the release, one is tempted to believe that she has a well defined focus and not out to gamble at all. Her ambition is very tall – she wants to sell two million DVDs within a year.

She believes that the structure she has erected – establishing a distribution company, striking deals with some big supermarkets, restaurants and erecting mini shops etc. – will fix the trick for her. And she has the confidence that her plans will thrive in spite of pirates.

She notes that to make the packaging attractive and imbue it with security codes – including an anti-dubbing application – Ije DVD was produced in the US.

Apart from many people that are likely to have a glimpse of what makes Ije thick, another group of people that will be especially elated to see Anyaene dance with her film to the market place is her parents. Her father was especially reluctant to give her a nod when she first gave indications that she wanted to study theatre.  Her mum is a teacher while her father, who wanted her to read law, is an architect. After she finished at UNIABUJA, she had to wait for youth service, in the process of which an uncle talked her into doing a course at the New York Film Academy.

“After the diploma, I came back to Nigeria with a short film I produced at the academy. When my father saw it, he said, ‘Oh, this is very good. You are really talented. Why not go on to do your masters at the academy?”

Still bubbling with creative energy, she will be back on set in 2013, when she will shoot her next movie. Although she will not yet  say much about the nature of it, she does not rule out the possibility of working again with Omotola and Genevieve. The only step she wants to take ahead of the Ije fame is that she will use the ‘best’ of actors from Nigeria and abroad because she wants to  subsequently grab a share of the global market.

Still applauding her cast in Ije, she says one of the things that endeared it to the public is the believable ways in which the roles were interpreted.

“The viewers are also able to relate with the role that Omotola plays. When watching her in Ije, you forget that you are watching a film. Of course, many people also find the story captivating. The way the conflict is resolved seems like a game to people. Hence, some of them had to go back to the cinema to watch it again,” she adds.

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