Disney has built an entire conglomerate out of animations. Countless of its productions have been major box office successes. The 2019 remake of Lion King grossed a whopping $1.657 billion at the box office. Frozen 2 generated $1.325 billion at the global box office in 2019. Incredibles 2, released in 2018, made $1.292 billion, among several others.
In spite of its 28 years in existence – most experts regard 1992 as the birth year of Nigeria’s modern film industry – Nollywood, credited as the second largest movie industry in the world, does not have an animated feature with a cinematic release to its credit. Not until Lady Buckit and The Motley Mopsters (LBMM), which is slated to be released to cinemas across Nigeria on Friday, December 11, 2020.
LBMM makes history as the first feature length animation to be produced in Nigeria, which will also be viewed in cinemas, but it has been two long years in production. This is coupled with several unforeseen circumstances in 2020 alone, including a global pandemic.
An animated movie is different from a regular movie in many ways. It usually requires a longer production time. A single frame of an animation film can have millions of moving parts. Every expression, movement or action is broken into several sketches which are then animated using computer generated-imagery (CGI). If you’re familiar with the making of animated movies, then you already knew this. A single minute of an animated movie might require as much as 10 hours to create.
Pulling off an animated movie is also labour intensive, requiring a technical crew working round the clock for weeks to meet production deadlines.
Besides the inadequacy of technically trained professionals skilled in making animations, another challenge that faces the production of animation in Nigeria is cost. Depending on the scale of the movie, an animated feature can cost anywhere from $1 million dollars upwards. Lady Buckit and the Motley Mopsters is estimated to have cost $1 million to produce. Which is approximately 380 Million Naira at the current exchange rate. Filmmaking is a business venture and requires the prospect of profit to be attractive. While producers may have balked at the costs and investments required to produce an animated feature for cinema, the proof is in the pudding. And if they remain unwilling to venture, they may never discover the benefits.
Producing a feature length animation is therefore a significant investment. This is what makes the release of Lady Buckit and the Motley Mopsters for cinemas, a truly monumental moment in the history of filmmaking in Nigeria.
LBMM is set against the backdrop of the historic oil producing town of Oloibiri, Delta State Nigeria and features voice actors including veterans, Patrick Doyle, Bimbo Akintola, Kalu Igweagu, fresh faces (voices) Kelechi Udegbe, Awazi Angbalaga, and child actors, Jessica Edwards, David Edwards and David Akpapkwu.
Set to be released in cinemas Friday, December 11, LBMM has opened the pathway for even more animated features in Nigerian cinemas. The journey might not be smooth, but Lady Buckit and the Motley Mopsters is proof of what is possible. Hopefully, the success of this movie will inspire a new wave of animators and producers in Nigeria, the same way Kenneth Nnebue’s Living in Bondage in 1992, birthed a new generation of independent filmmakers and an industry that is today known as Nollywood.