Nigeria’s highly anticipated film, “Almajiri,” hit cinemas nationwide on June 23, immersing audiences in the heart-wrenching struggles faced by Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria. However, the lack of pre-release marketing and promotion by Ayo Makun and his team seemed to have affected the film’s opening weekend performance.
Despite minimal advertising efforts, “Almajiri” managed to gross ₦5,425,050 in its opening weekend, drawing 2044 ticket admissions across 54 locations, as reported by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN). Analysts believe that the film’s subdued box office performance can be attributed to the absence of significant marketing, particularly in the southern region of Nigeria.
According to the NIgerian Box Office Yearbook 2022, Southern Nigeria accounted for the majority of Nigeria’s ₦6.9 billion gross box office (GBO) in 2022, with audiences primarily composed of the Igbo and Yoruba communities. Given that “Almajiri” explores the experiences of the Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria and features Hausa dialogue, effectively engaging the southern audience would require substantial marketing efforts. Unfortunately, the film’s official trailer and character posters were only released the day before its release, leaving little time for buzz to build.
Industry insiders hope that the production team will take steps to rectify the lack of marketing and employ guerrilla marketing tactics to generate excitement among moviegoers. A strong second-week performance is crucial for “Almajiri” to gain momentum and increase its box office numbers.
Comparatively, recent Nigerian releases such as “The Kujus Again,” “Honey Money,” and “Domitilla: The Reboot” enjoyed more robust opening weekends and sustained success at the box office. “The Kujus Again” amassed ₦17,304,800 in its opening week and ultimately grossed ₦53,538,450 over ten weeks. “Honey Money” generated ₦9,153,400 in its opening weekend and went on to accumulate ₦41,017,250 over eight weeks. Similarly, “Domitilla: The Reboot” opened with ₦10,917,467 and achieved a total GBO of ₦45,057,559 across nine weeks.
“Almajiri” is a poignant drama that sheds light on the harsh realities endured by Almajiri children in Northern Nigeria. The film delves deep into their lives, depicting the profound poverty that forces them to roam the streets in search of basic necessities while facing grave challenges such as chronic illness, abuse, trafficking, slavery, and drug addiction.
The film boasts a stellar cast, featuring renowned actors and actresses such as Alexx Ekubo, Annie Idibia, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Segun Arinze, Ali Nuhu, Rahama Sadau, Sani Danja, Broda Shaggi, and Ayo Makun himself. Their collective talent and dedication bring authenticity to their portrayals, capturing the essence of the story.
“Almajiri” had already gained substantial recognition before its release, as it was chosen as the closing feature at the 2022 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) and received critical acclaim. The film also triumphed at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (TINFF), securing an impressive twelve awards.
Ayo Makun and Darlington Abuda spearhead the production team behind “Almajiri,” collaborating to bring this thought-provoking story to the silver screen. Under the expert direction of Toka McBaror, the film showcases artistic and cinematic excellence.