Malaika was successful in the Box Office despite piracy attacks. Photo  Toyin Abraham

By Charles Mgbolu

January 2024 started on a high note for many Nigerian filmmakers as the holiday rush saw movie fans boost record-breaking box office sales.

Nigerian actress and producer Funke Akindele’s latest movie, 'A Tribe called Judah', made history after grossing 1.5 billion Naira ($1.6 million) within 21 days.

Toyin Abraham, another Nigerian filmmaker, also set a personal record as her latest release, Malaika, hit ₦283,352,445 ($315,000) in one month.

However, the success of these movies has been heavily threatened by the actions of pirates, who mainly share movies on social media illegally.

‘Am I dreaming?’

Toyin Abraham told a press conference she burst into tears when she saw her movie ‘Malaika’ on social media.

‘’I asked my manager, ‘Am I dreaming?’ and he said, 'No, you are not,’ and it seemed like my world was coming to an end.’’

UNESCO estimates that 50% to over 75% of movie revenues by African content producers is lost to piracy.

Abraham says she saw her life’s work ‘’going down the drain.’’

''I went on these social media platforms where my movie was shared, and I begged the pirates to no avail''

Toyin Abraham is not alone in this ordeal.

Massive theft

According to the Cinemas Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), Funke Akindele’s ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ experienced a 55% sales drop between January 12, 2024, and January 18, 2024.

This coincides with the period when news of its record-breaking success hit headlines, inadvertently alerting pirates.

A tribe called Judah film poster. Photo: Funke Akindele

Soon, illegal links to the movie flooded social media, leading to desperate calls from close associates on social media condemning the act and urging fans to only watch the movie through legal channels.

Abraham says the certainty of these illegal links dropping on social media has also encouraged a dangerous habit among movie fans.

‘’On social media, people now say we will not go to the cinema to watch. We are waiting for the link to drop... this caused me a lot of panic attacks,’’ says Abraham.

Illegal links

To save Malaika from the deathly grips of the pirates, Abraham and her team made frantic calls to technicians and social media platforms, who began hastily breaking the links, but then it was swatting a swarm of flies in the air.

‘’We broke a lot of these illegal links, but then there are still others out there,’’ she says.

The Lagos State Police paraded five suspects arrested in connection with illegally sharing 'Malaika' online, but Abraham says she is not interested in the foot soldiers.

‘’I want to know the source. These people had their hands on a file copy of my movie. How did this happen? I want to know who is responsible for doing such wicked things.’’

She has vowed to personally take up the fight against piracy, stressing: ‘’It is not just for me alone but for all of the African creative industry.’’

TRT Afrika