The decision of Kannywood producers and filmmakers to screen their films at cinemas before they make their way to the market is costing them their fan base.
Findings by PREMIUM TIMES indicate that the absence of the cinema houses in major northern Nigerian cities has seen erstwhile Kannywood fans gradually switch to purchasing Bollywood and Nollywood films instead.
Stakeholders say it is largely due to the fact that many lovers of Kannywood films are also Bollywood buffs.
During a PREMIUM TIMES’ visit to AA Rashid film store in Kaduna, an attendant said, “When people make enquiries about the latest Kannywood film releases and we tell them that they have to travel to Kano to see it first, they say they would rather buy Indian films that are readily available. Indian films are currently in high demand.”
An avid Kannywood fan, Ahmed Sani, who resides in Kaduna, is unhappy about the decision. He said the producers did not seek the opinions of their fans before choosing to return to the cinemas.
He said, “Kano is the only northern state that has cinema houses and hundreds of film viewing centres readily available. You cannot find cinema houses in Kaduna State, which is the second home of Kannywood.”
“This means that anyone who lives outside Kano State will have to wait for as long as the film will last in Kano Viewing Centres before he or she can eventually see the film. It’s a really bad decision.”
Mr. Sani also added that the move has prompted Kannywood fans like him to lose interest in some Hausa films.
“About 70 per cent of the people who watch Kannywood films live in the villages and local governments. Women at home also constitute a very good percentage of viewers. Now they don’t have to watch the films as it drops until after a very long time. Since they cannot find them when they need them they are gradually returning to Indian films full time,” he noted.
Hassana Dalhat, Kannywood film promoter said, returning to the cinemas is the best and also what is practiced in most developed nations, “But I think some kind of arrangement needed to be put in place before they agree to fully return to the cinemas.
“Yes that is the best thing to do but I think they should have took it gradually. May be in phases. Their fans are not sophisticated in a way and they should have understand that and make it in phases. That will have been better for everybody.
Hassana appealed to policy and film makers to critically look at this issue and make it a priority.
Top Kannywood actor, Zaharaddeen Sani, however, informed PREMIUM TIMES that his colleagues took the unanimous decision owing to the menace of piracy.
“Kannywood has changed the way it now sells it films. The issue of piracy is really affecting us. So, the industry has concluded that henceforth every Kannywood movie will be shown only in Cinemas for some time before they get released to the market. So, if you are a pirate you will wait until it gets to the market. Filmmakers have agreed on that.
“This is one issue that the regulators are still talking about because as it stands, films will only be shown in Kano because it has cinemas and film viewing centres. The other states will have to wait until it gets to the market. But since it is just a pilot phase, more cinemas and viewing centres will be encouraged in other states so they can have these movies as they break. This is how it is done in developed countries.”
From Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi and Kontagora, fans of Kannywood who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES expressed their dissatisfaction.
“They copy the western world, which is very good but even in developed countries certain things are put in place before laws are implemented.
“Over here, they do not put us in to consideration. We shall wait until when they are ready to sell to us. All I know is that many people will start losing interest in the film because they can’t wait further,” said Aisha Hassan, a Gombe resident.
For Fatimah Abubakar, who lives in Adamawa State, the decision ought to be a win-win situation for both parties.
She said, “While they return fully to the cinemas, they should also consider their fans who are basically locals. They are seriously complaining now and gradually I think they will surely have an alternative.
“Rahama Sadaus’ film, Rariya, Ali Nuhu’s film, Mansoor, are currently showing in Kano cinemas. But all we hear over here in Adamawa is ‘the film is good.’ I think it is only proper to screen these films at various state facilities before selling the DVDS. However, selling the films will still be better off idea.”
Moving forward, a Kannywod film producer, actor cum promoter, Wassh Hong, suggested ways to curb piracy in Kannywood.
“While the cinema route will work, it is also important that we understand our people’s strength and weakness. One strategy we are currently working on is partnering with filmmakers to hunt Kannywood movie pirates in our markets.
“We will televise the processes; from investigation to identifying the culprits, arresting, prosecuting and subsequently jailing them across local TV station across the North,” he said.