Influence of Hollywood on Nollywood


In Africa, specifically in Nigeria, a common person on the streets of Lagos considers films made in the US create the standard of the films they consider worth watching. It results from a modernization by the developed nations, instead of developing self-sufficiency, hardly supported dependency within a recreant framework of world economic affiliations. This reliance was assisted by a one-route flow of media and technology hardware coalesces with the progressive flow of the Western cultural confections in the developing nations. In Nigeria, twenty years ago emerged a film industry; Nollywood that is predominantly separated from the dominant world cultural industry connection of production inputs as well as distribution, but linked globally in various ways. Hollywood has come a long way in influencing how Nollywood filmmakers and the industry operates, and one could say that it is transparently noticeable how Hollywood output on the rest of the globe is depicted cleverly remakes of its work by other film industries.

Nollywood as a National Cinema

Nollywood, the pictorial anomaly that was started in the Capital City of Nigeria; Lagos has been recognized for its unprecedented scope of success in that state. Giwa (2014), depicts that it has already begun to make a statement outside its borders, whereby it has managed to grasp international film festival awards such as the Festival of African and Caribbean Film that was hosted in Barbados. Miller (2012), identifies that at one point the work Nollywood had done was once introduced to the Caribbean; the Thunderbolt, for the first time by a famous Nigerian movie producer, Tunde Kelani, rephrased how the industry is perceived and commonly regarded as a copy of the architecture of Hollywood, and now known for its uniqueness of this art in the visual culture of Africa, but as well in the global pictorial expression as a whole.

Miller (2012), claims that Nollywood as an art industry has depicted how and why it obliges spotlight from those outside its area of function and cultural conception. Actually, one of the features that makes Nollywood somehow an independent local pictorial expression from the influence of Hollywood, is that it contemplates on the inside rather than on the outside, and one can blindly contend that the industry does so in all areas of the production and organization of its functions.


There exist one aspect that Okome (2017), claims that makes the industry stand out against its competitor in West Africa. It is a fact that the industry does not have the luxury to train nor raise large funds for production like Francophone Cinema stationed in Burkina Faso. Yet, Nollywood has strangely been capable of circumventing the issues of lack of professional actors and directors as well as funds that the African Francophone film producers complain about and has managed to turn out successfully by employing unskilled actors and directors in the past twenty years since its inauguration. It has managed to move the treatise of picturesque depiction far away from the condemnation games that are obvious and to some extent fascinatingly characterized in the erudition of cinema production and culture in the postcolonial African continent.

Nollywood is economically shrewd. It is conscious of the entertainment of its audience. The entertainment bit according to Okome (2017), is basically to the trend of delineation in the industry, at the same time in the quest, one cannot obliterate its sense of objective, which is to make a culture from the foundation of the streets, so to convey. Nollywood offers the imaginary for some marginal areas of the society where it functions. It is the destitute section of its postcolonial foundation, which is no longer confined to the nation of Nigeria. This insignificant audience is now identified among individuals on the continent of Africa and in the black diaspora where such postcolonial surroundings dominate. However, this is not to quibble that the industry clearly differentiates its probable clientele along economic and social lines. Even though at times it does, it will not achieve its heights in a community where the breach between the poor and the rich is in most cases a fluid range of negotiations for entrance to money and power.

Other films in the world are quite different from Nollywood since the industry is recognized in Africa for significantly reflecting the social and economic aspects of its clientele after influenced by the western culture, specifically film industries in North Africa and Europe. Okome (2017), affirms that the industries in the last edition of Festivals like the 2004 Berlinale Film Festival held in Berlin, Germany and the thirty-fourth edition of the Montreal Film Festival, both identified the industry as a large curios entity and privileged it as a ‘curio’. So, Nollywood is perceived as a piece of ‘artifact’, a piece much further from a place, but at the same time a piece of artifact so interesting that it cannot exist outside the cultural and organizational structure, regardless of speculations that the industry has created a notion on how the Continent is perceived by the rest of the world.

The impact of Hollywood on Nollywood films Industry

A number of people when thinking of shooting a film, it would take at least four month to complete which is common in Bollywood and Hollywood industries. But when it comes to Nollywood, according to Udomisor and Anayo (2014), films are shot in less than two weeks. Of course, the quality of the movie in stunts, production, and digitalization are complete of a lower quality than that of Hollywood and Bollywood films. Regardless of their poor quality, Nollywood industry has become the second biggest film producer in the world due to numerous imitations of the Hollywood films. The state of Nigeria according to Okome (2007), may seem to be poor compared to the other two, but it has managed to accomplish a lot in the film industry through borrowing of ideas from Hollywood film industry, wherein using a single digital camera and two lights and ten thousand dollars, the industry has attained the world’s second film industry title.

Hollywood has greatly influenced this Nigerian film industry by playing an important role in the cultural imperialism of the United States of America, and Rollins (2015), claims it is whereby Hollywood tries to expand the American values and models through exportation of movies. Basically, imperialism is depicted as the principle of extending a country’s authority by territorial accretion or by the establishment of political and economic domination over other countries. It can be perceived as a practice of advancement, circulation, isolating or synthetically injecting the language or culture into another. In use of other words, it can be said to be domination of one culture over another. In relation to Nollywood films, according to Rollins (2015), imperialism has been depicted to have systematically entered and dominated the cultural life of the popular class, or the elite community that is shot to be wealthy or rich. Youssef (2014), affirms that this class of individuals is depicted to be the ruling class of the West so that to reorder the behavior, values, organizations as well as identity of the common and poor individuals coming from rural areas, with the interest of the domineering class.

The Hollywood films depict the US culture, and the country’s cultural expansionism according to Rollins (2015), has two basic objectives, one is political and the other is economic. So the Hollywood industry depicts these factors to capture markets for its cultural commodities as well as to develop hegemony through modeling popular consciousness. The exportation of these film entertainments is one of the most critical sources of capital build-up and world profit displacing the manufacturing industry exports. In the political aspect, cultural neocolonialism plays a significant function in dissociating individuals from their cultural traditions and roots of consensus, replacing these cultures with media developed needs, which adjust with each civic expedition. Youssef (2014), explains that the political impact is meant to separate people from community bond and traditional class, vaporizing and disconnecting people from one another.

From the Nollywood films, it is quite identified that however, the themes focus on those found at local and poor people, most of the storylines try to indicate how western cultures and politics influence that person at the lowest position of the class. So Hollywood filmmakers and their output progressively influence on the work Nollywood filmmakers try to bring out in African background, making them clever remakes of Hollywood movies, rewritten to adjust and fit the local culture.

Basically, according to Schatz (2013), Hollywood and generally America is perceived to be the utopian society that is deficient of errors. But US Hollywood has an impressive growth of the film industry making it such an iconic specter. The first aspect is that Hollywood is situated at the west coast where the climate, the features such as sea, cities, mountains, and land were easily accessible and inexpensive for studio spaces as well as a cheap labor force (Crofts, 2011). For that reason, Hollywood attracted several moviemakers making it a magical development. Thus, its success could be identified to originate from the geographical location, increasing its competition for an audience.

Secondly, Ibbi (2013), explains that Hollywood films had a unique opinion, with a classical line of a ‘pretty woman’. Also, it depicted that Hollywood is where your dreams could be attained, or rather Hollywood is the land of dreams, where some can become true while others do not, but it is important to keep on dreaming. Schatz (2013) confirms that the industry became a dream factory, where a film is a dream to them, and creating a film is like realizing that dream. However, economist considered these films as products, where the makers, the artist, and the distributors are paid for every product they make. Out of these factors, which originated after the First World War, Maisuwong (2012), concludes that Hollywood set the pace for other film industries in the world. They borrowed ideas, technology and perception of how they would also benefit from the borrowed concept.

According to Okome (2007), the literature of the Nollywood extends from the historic aspects of the industry to the plots, themes, production and dispersion of movies for global and local audiences. The films are the source of articulating and realization of the Nigerian culture after colonialism as well as the effect of the lifestyles of Nigerian people in the contemporary world greatly being influenced by the Western culture, social and political spheres. For several years, Olayiwola (2011), argues that these Nollywood films have been based on storylines that range from constant drama, comedy, tragedy, romance, and action on how a typical African person would depict them at the local level but still sharing the same overall theme as the Hollywood films. The setting of the African creates high plots that keep the African audience interested. Izuzu (2018), identifies one of the actors in the Nollywood industry saying that he could recall watching Hollywood films as he grew up, and to him, it was a learning curve where he developed a liking to the works. He was driven to be an actor in the industry and since he finally got there, he aspired to do better, to reach the category Hollywood was.

Initially, according to Nsehe (2011), Nollywood films have been depicted to contain a lot of witchcraft, and since most of its audience is from sub-Saharan countries, most of these people have an impression that Nigeria is an accustomed home for witchcraft. Well, the accusations seemed to have greatly influenced the producers of these films, where later on the scripts started to change to include half nude dressing as well as sex scenes. Nsehe (2011), confirms that these two aspects were common in Hollywood films. Then, some of the Nigerians complained that the industry is gradually introducing some scenes of pornography that were contradicting with the culture of these people. Oyetimi and Adebayo (2013) were quoted describing the reaction of these Nigerian people as pretentious and impulsive, and irrespective of being provoked by their audience, they later on started to welcome such moderate and unrestrained establishment of Hollywood culture to the Nollywood industry. It is clear that the statistical representation of erotic and additional violent contents are on the rise in the Nollywood films indicating that Hollywood has inducted and influenced the industry since most audiences across the globe use Hollywood films to mark the quality and genre of movies that would interest them.

Theoretical Framework

Despite the efforts Nollywood industry has made in sticking and portraying the Nigerian culture and social aspect, its uniqueness does not exist without borrowing some ideas from Hollywood, thus mapping it to be one of the top movie producers in the globe. Its producer’s diligence to maintain an innate thematic framework of the films they produce on a weekly basis, fails in many instances to depict original African culture and social aspect. Fittro et al. (2012), agrees with Manthia Diawara that African cinemas are independent films but at the same time Blaxploitation movies of mainstream Hollywood. Manthia depicts it as a Bourgeois Humanism that refers to the ideology of Marxist Humanism, where during shooting of movies, the producer makes sure to depict the roots in the idea of alienation. This is what Nollywood filmmakers apply by use of aesthetics as well as high moral acreage to reject dominant Hollywood cinema. Out of this context, Nollywood is able to depict stories of black communities and their complex features instead of reliance on the stereotypical Hollywood themes that still shows up in scenes.

The prosperity of the Nollywood industry is huge since the film industry showcases issues of necessities on both negative and positive aspects that happen in Nigeria. As such, people involved are proliferated with creative ideas, talents, as well as the need to develop an alcove for themselves. It is what Anikulapo, one of the greatest actors and directors of movies in Nigeria conceptualize it as the state of artistic freedom, where people seek and need opportunities to become better in their artistry roles as identified from various fronts of filmmaking. Schatz (2013), claims that this concept was first coined in the Hollywood film industry, where several people went down there to achieve ‘the American dream’. Now it can be seen in Nollywood filmmaking, where every week, there are several young individuals being trained and seeking positions to feature in the casts.

While making these Nigerian movies, its popularity is one key thing that has been identified across Africa. Udomisor and Anayo (2014), discovered that the domestic market has been grasped successfully with production taking several different bases, and each portraying a distinct style, form, and theme, not leaving out the languages used for expressions. All these provide an image of the Nigerian nation, but not certainly in the sense of providing an entire, specific as well as analytical description of social reality, but rather in a sense of mirroring the constructive dynamism of the country, culture, and economy from western world. One trial at the anthropological mapping of the anomaly indicates us an accumulation of forms, completely distinct at the poles in class and ethnic terms, but with extended field of convergence and overlap.

The Nollywood films can be best described by scrutinizing Yoruba traveling theatre tradition, in which they have dominated in recent Nigerian films. The theater has managed to theorize the aspect of the Nigerian popular culture in which Okome (2017), emphasizes that the most powerful tool they possess to interpret the African popular culture, in which can be identified in various recent films produced. Okemu (2017), also argued that the word popular does not only signify that the clientele was huge and fervid but, more explicitly, they embodied ‘the whole sphere of socioeconomic, occupational teams as well as classes either completely inducted by the western culture or in the process of induction. According to McCain (2011), the theater does not select the group that they played to, and Okome (2017), affirms the ideology behind the term Nollywood, and claims that the term is perceived appropriate since anywhere beyond the Nigerian borders, video films are perceived as ‘Nollywood’ irrespective of how producers and other movie companies within the country label themselves and influence its work.

According to Olayiwola (2011), he depict that filmmaking requires the comprehension of cinematic techniques both in directing and acting, an aspect that Nigerian movies lack. He emphasizes that until an individual acquires formal technique, then he or she is capable of taking a chance and hope that his work in filmmaking will come out correct. He developed this concept after studying the trends of lack of literacy in a related discipline such as film studies, cinematography, theater arts and broadcasting. Instead, those in this business are there in form of a trial and error game, coping Hollywood films in hope of finding relevance but leading to numerous productions of films within ten days that are shoddy products. This is because; according to Olayiwola (2007), most of these films are poorly directed since most of these individuals perceive that venturing into such business all you need is enough money and several participants. If you possess a camera, you fit to be in the film industry. Consequently, it has led to thousands of small film businesses across Nigeria, and all have one common aspect, poor quality films using Hollywood as the marking scheme of their films. There is a rare combination of talent and training among actors and directors and it is yet to be comprehended in Nigeria film industry.

Due to the underlying issues, Olayiwola (2007), proposes that there should be collaboration between the trained theater and film artists and unqualified practitioners, who are capable of delivering their expertise in the industry in general. He also proposes that higher education institutions require establishing film departments since there is an unshaken and unending affinity for the stage. He finally, suggests the Nigerian government needs to halt provision of money for lip services, but instead makes the Nollywood industry a viable corporation.

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Nollywood film industry has accumulated recognition at an international scale, with various African immigrants spread across the globe and specifically concentrating its market in the South and Sub Saharan regions. The influence of Hollywood to Nollywood cannot go unnoticed, ranging from methods of production, distribution, influencing the culture, political and socioeconomic aspects that are regarded as neocolonialism by the Western world. Instances could be depicted in how these Western cultures either have been inducted and portrayed in an African setting or depicted as an elite class among the larger category of the people these movies are focusing on. In addition, theorists such as Manthia Diawara have conceptualized the recognition and sticking of the African setting of movies rather than the borrowing of ideas from Hollywood. Anikulapo conceptualized the popularity of Nollywood and so many actors across the country were as a result of what he refers to artistic freedom. Okome theorizes the word ‘Nollywood’ that represents the many film industries in Nigeria. Finally Olayiwola argues that many Nollywood films in the country are of low quality because artist practitioners are not literarily equipped in the film industry.


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