How To Start And Run A Profitable Cinema Business in Nigeria

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Life can be a regular hustle and bustle. Waking up early so you don’t miss the bus, stressing out about rush hour traffic, and coming home so late after a hard day’s job. Weekdays are stressful, and this makes it natural for people to look for ways to detox, ease the pressures and refresh their minds during the weekends or holidays. One way to do this is by watching a good movie. I mean not just lazily switching a laptop or TV on, but going for the best movie experience in a cinema.

Viewing any movie in a cinema theater filled with other people can be satisfying, particularly for clips that elicit powerful reactions. The lilting sounds, the lighting and feeling of solidarity as everyone watching is experiencing the same emotions can be truly enjoyable.

For movie buffs, Netflix, HBO or Amazon Prime Video are no substitutes for some undiluted movie theatre experience.

Should this mean that all cinemas sell a good number of tickets every other week and make a good yearly turnover?

Yes, in other countries where there is a strong cinema culture. In the United States, for example, the average movie ticket price in 2018 sold for $9.11. The highest-grossing movie in 2018 was “Black Panther”, which generated over 700 million U.S. dollars at the domestic box office.

Unfortunately, here in Nigeria, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The cinema culture is not so encouraging as the industry is still a long walk from maturity.

Read also: 5 Things You Should Do Before Approaching Investors For Seed Capital

But hey! Don’t give up yet. In my previous blog post, I emphasized the need to see opportunity in every circumstance. This year we shall be doing a lot of that.

I’d also love to write about why the cinema business in Nigeria isn’t attracting the audience it should, but that’s a topic for another day.

Now… there is some good news trickling in.

There has been a tremendous upsurge in the number of movie-goers in the last dozen months. Lately, Nigerians seem to be fastly embracing the cinema culture.

Data from the Cinema Exhibitors Association Of Nigeria CEAN shows that movie-goers spent a whooping N7b (about $193m) last year on movie tickets alone. This is no big deal compared to other developed countries where Cinema culture has taken a foothold. However, it’s a positive indicator judging from the fact that filmmakers made a paltry N600 million in cinemas in December 2018 and roughly N2 billion throughout the entire year.

This means many more Nigerians are going to the cinema, and that’s good news for investors who are eager to invest in the industry. With the year 2019 ending on a good note, film pundits have predicted that 2020 will be even better.

So, If you have ever considered starting a cinema business, now is the best time.

Before delving into the essentials of starting a cinema business in Nigeria, it is important to understand why other cinema businesses folded in the past. Here are some of the probable reasons.

Insufficient Funds

Cinema business is a capital-intensive business that can be expressed in factors such as exorbitant rents, quality equipment, registration, and licensing fees.


Most investors in Cinema have failed as a result of a negative attitude and mentality, even before the start of the business. This transcends to the investor’s perception of the business and how it is packaged to meet the peculiar needs of the target customers.

Economic Challenges

Here economic issues include predisposing risk factors associated with business location, disease outbreaks, natural disasters, etc. People are afraid to gather in groups, particularly where natural and man-made disasters are prone to occur. Crime and other civil ills also help to discourage the patronage of this enterprise.

The Moral Issue

Abuse of the cinema vicinage through acts like smoking, curb-crawling and other activities of the night could scare prospective customers away. This could also lead to the closure of the business by the government especially where such activities are not endorsed by law.

Read also: 20 Success Habits You Will Need In 2020

Starting Cinema Business In 2020

There’s more to cinema than just films. If you want to make good money from this business, you need to see it as something that brings people together to bond and have fun. Think about ways to diversify your income. Maybe an ice cream cart, a popcorn stand or any other side gigs to fall back on, in case a customer gets bored watching a movie. You can also rent your facility for other events and activities, as well as make good some money via concession.

Want to start a cinema business? Here are some essentials to begin with if you want to run a successful movie theatre business in Nigeria.

Personal Research

As a newbie in the business, you are not expected to start making millions in a blink. Since you are, as I believe, a beginner on the track, you need to contact industry and related field experts such as recording studios, event planners and decorators and anyone else who can help make your dream cinema company a reality. Take advantage of their wealth of experience and leverage on this to plan and grow your business.

Your interaction with them will expose you to more details about the business. They can also help you with a good location, market survey, design, etc.

Feasibility Studies

Visit other city cinemas and see what they’re doing and of course how they are doing it. Get detailed information about their target audience, revenue streams and the side attractions they offer. Learn from their successes and failures and create a simple blueprint for your Cinema business.

Brand Authorization

To derive more revenue, you need to offer value-added services at your cinema arena. With VR and AR games now in hot steam, Game Shops can also go side by side with cinema. Sweets, desserts, drinks and even movies sell well too at cinema locations. As such, before you begin retailing such items at your cinema location, you should obtain a franchise permit or license from the companies offering such products and services.

Get Trained

To function properly in your cinema enterprise you need some education and training, otherwise, you might run the company into huge losses. You need to be trained in fields such as the handling of Movie Tickets, cinematography, auditing and crowd control. Spending a few months in business school will get you fully prepared for this.

Partner With Licensed Film Dealer’s/Marketers

Contact film dealers/distributors for trending, yet to be released or anticipated films. The higher the excitement about a movie, the greater the tickets sellout, and of course the better the business opportunities. This would translate into higher remuneration, as many customers flock to watch these movies at your cinema location.

Find A Good Spot

Scout for the best location to position your cinema business. Most desirably, go for a busy but serene part of the town that has a lot of attention. Be conscious of the hall capacity and parking lot. People will likely find a good place to unwind after a long day. At such times insight into the movie place would be more than welcome.


The biggest selling point in the cinema business is the type of equipment and facility used. So, ensure that your lighting, sound system, and even interior design are top-notch. Also, make your business compelling because the first impression matters a lot in life.

Diversify Income Streams

Every business no matter how juicy at first has a downside. Cinema business in Nigeria is no exception. As such, have a backup plan by offering businesses at your Cinema venue. This includes sales of popcorn, drinks, beverages, etc. This would enable you to balance the financial gaps created to cover the cost.

Write a Business Plan

This should be one of the first things to start with. You may think you know what you’re talking about, but having a business plan gives you a better understanding of your proposed business.

Before you start seeking legal advice, renting spaces, or forming an LLC, you need to put your thoughts on paper. This will help you stay organized and focused. You’ll also be able to share this plan with others to help you get valuable feedback.

With a business plan, it’s easy to estimate how much it will take to start the business. No banks or angel investors will give you a dollar if you don’t have a convincing business plan.


Now that you have set all the key things in place, its time to advertise your business. Take advantage of the social media space. Hire influencers to raise the hype, put your business up on quality print media. They say doing good is great, but letting others know that you are doing good is equally important. Hire good writers to craft captivating articles about the NEXT MOVIE SHOWING. Do all you can to draw increased exposure for your cinema business.

Get Started

With the information shared in this article and a little bit more research, I believe you can now start a profitable cinema business in Nigeria today.

Read also: How To Charm A Deep-Pocketed Angel Investor To Fund Your Idea

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