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I-n-v-a-s-i-o-n! Ghanaians eclipse Nollywood stars

By SAMUEL OLATUNJI
•Nadia & Van
•Nadia & Van

•Fingers pointed at marketers
•Big stars feel the heat

Just like many alien invasion movies we've watched, the film industry in Nigeria, better known as Nollywood, is fast experiencing its own kind of 'alien' invasion.
The invasion is not done by some monstrous-looking beasts with camera in their hands. Neighbouring Ghanaian stars are actually the ones invading our dear Nollywood like 'pests' according to an insider.

Peaceful collaboration that most keen watchers of Nollywood thought was just another marketing gimmick has fast snowballed into a major pain in the neck of Nigerian superstars. Nigerian movie marketers, who are the financier of most Nollywood films, now prefer to use Ghanaian actors and actresses than their Nigerian counterparts.

The situation has degenerated to the extent that Nigerian A-list actresses and actors now play sub-lead roles in movie industry where they used to hold sway. An actress told this reporter on condition of anonymity that the only reason marketers still use Nigerian stars in their movie is simply for marketing purposes. As expected, worst hit of this trend are the A-list actors and actresses. One of them told Showbiz Now that marketers are to blame and accused them of trying to destroy the industry they helped build.

Hardly is any movie released now in Nigeria without a Ghanaian playing a major role. Nollywood starts now play second fiddle to their counterparts who used to look up to them as stars.
The reason for this disturbing trend, according to a marketer is simply marketing. 'We invest in movies as business ventures not as charity or on ground of sentiments.

Our movies now sell very well in Ghana compared to Nigeria where sale of movies is sliding by the day. In order to recoup our investments, we have to take our goods to where the market is. Unfortunately for Nigerian stars, we have to sell since our home market is falling apart, and that means we have to use to what will give us leverage in their market. You can't expect them to buy a movie that has only Nigerian stars. If we want to sell well, we have to use their stars, unlike before. I must confess to you that it is working.'

But an actor who also prefers to remain anonymous told us there are more to the issue than what the marketer told us. 'The truth is that Nollywood will soon die and if it does, we would hold the marketers responsible. Ghanaians don't pay tax here, yet they come here in droves, make money and return to their country to live lavishly. The reason marketers use them more now is simply because of greed. They charge less and permit me to say, they don't act too well. But our marketers will sell their souls to gain extra kobo. Why would they want to use us when we charge them and deliver premium quality when there is someone who will charge less and probably deliver less? They prefer the extra cash to quality. Nigerian movies will sell anywhere, whether it has an all Nigerian cast in it or not,' he fumes.

Another dangerous twist to this issue is that marketers are now going as far as Sierra Leone, Liberia and other African countries scouting for artistes that would give their works marketing leverage. And most of the time, marketers hold up production for them and adjust shooting time to fit their schedules.

And to make matters worse, Ghanaians don't extend same gesture to our stars here and there is even unofficial communiqué that any Ghanaian film producer that uses Nigerian stars would be blacklisted. This explains why no Nigerian actor has featured of late in a Ghanaian movie.
The development is not going well with Nigerian stars and some marketers feel the trend is unfavourable.
Jackie Appiah, Nadia Buari, Nana Ama McBrown and Van Viker are at the forefront of the invasion of Ghanaian actors' invasion.
What will happen next? Marketers and stakeholders bare their minds next week.