Nollywood actress, Genevieve Nnaji, has reportedly accused FilmOne distribution of not distributing her internationally acclaimed directional debut, Lionheart.
This is coming after the actress had taken to her Instagram page to announce December 21 as the release date for Lionheart in Nigerian cinemas.
However, things appeared to have taken a different turn after Genevieve’s representative and CEO of Life House, Ugoma Adegoke, accused FilmOne of staging sabotage of the film screening because “they have no stake in it.”
In a lengthy statement released to the WhatsApp Nollywood platform, Film4Life, she explained that she had reached out to Silverbird Cinemas but because FilmOne has some films showcasing at their cinemas which they had invested in this season, they attempted to thwart the distribution so that they “protect their assets at all cost”.
Silverbird had, according to the statement, agreed to show Lionheart exclusively but as soon as the announcement was made to the public, FilmOne which she described as the “powers that be” of distribution and marketing threatened Silverbird causing them to back out of the agreement.
ore so, she brashly accused them of manipulating numbers in the box office.
“It is not enough that they buy out their own tickets and manipulate the numbers and time slots to keep up this false imagery of making box-office hits.
“They prevent filmmakers from releasing their products to manipulate foot traffic as well. Thereby forcing consumers to watch only that which is available to them. Not what they actually want to see,” she wrote.
“I call them vultures because they are a bunch of opportunists, and they prey on the weak. If the only success stories you can boast of as a distributor are movies you invested in, then how are you a supporter for the industry at large?, she added.
“As for the ‘powers that be’, this is not over. On the contrary, it is just the beginning. You are going to respect what I stand for which is art. You are going to respect where I came from which is Nollywood. You are going to learn to respect the talent. Period”, she concluded.
A source at Genesis Cinemas said Lionheart came for bookings at a time when several cinemas had already finalised their arrangements for the rest of the year.
The source said the bookings closed in September. There are also claims that the cinema planned on doing a limited release of Lionheart in specific locations.
In response to these allegations, Patrick Lee, Chairman, Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria, CEAN, in a statement, said that there are guidelines which LionHeart did not follow.
He said that unlike other films which had followed the required process and notice to include the film in the calendar.
He also stated that most CEAN members “refused to take the movie” because of LionHeart team did not follow procedure.
Despite sealing a deal with Netflix, he expressed surprise that Genevieve Nnaji’s team did not “secure a spot on the calendar” in spite of them having ample time until recently.
Lee said producers of films such as Chief Daddy, KOB and Merry Men concluded their screening arrangement since March even though the films were shown later in the year,
He concluded by requesting that they are “also not pleased about the attacks in the statement on some of our members and the sweeping generalisations the statement makes and expect to seek further clarification from its author before determining if further action needs to be taken.”
LionHeart is billed to showcase on the 4th of January on Netflix.