The Making of a Film Empire

How did Nigeria create the second largest movie industry in the world? 

Nollywood began in Nigeria in the 1990s and has grown into one of the most recognized cultural industries of the world, producing more movies every year than Hollywood and almost as many as Bollywood. Emily Witt travels to Nigeria to offer a vivid, rollicking tour of Nollywood today, from the back alleys of the marketplaces of Lagos to the glamour of a red-carpet premiere, from startups trying to digitize what has been largely an economy based on piracy to the shooting of a historic epic in the northern city of Jos. 

Amid electricity cuts, fuel scarcity, and countless other obstacles, Nigerians are pursuing the very real possibility that Nollywood dramas could become a global brand, as recognizable as the Bollywood musical, the Hong Kong kung fu flick, or the Hollywood blockbuster.

  • ISBN: 9780997126488
  • Price: $14.99
  • E-book ISBN: 9780997126495
  • On Sale: October 17, 2017
  • Pages: 124


“Nollywood is one of the most remarkable cultural developments of recent decades.... The strength of Witt’s book is her exploration of Nollywood’s attempts to formalize its haphazard business model.... An insightful and entertaining book about a rapidly evolving industry.” —Noo Saro-Wiwa, Times Literary Supplement

“Emily Witt blends monograph with vivid reportage in her latest offering: a short but sweet study of Nigerian cinema.” —Laura Garmeson, Financial Times

“Witt’s fascination with the business is contagious, and the view she provides into this fledgling market—punctuated with summaries of the overwrought plotlines of some popular movies—makes for an entertaining book.” Publishers Weekly

“An excellent, engaging introduction to an industry that deserves continued attention.” —Noah Tsika, Africa Is A Country

“Witt’s book addresses the major shifts in Nollywood: how the change in Nigeria’s film distribution model affected both the content and the industry’s digital future, among other topics. Witt, who spent five weeks in Nigeria researching Nollywood, seamlessly blends travel writing with cultural and media history for a product that is as informative as it is effortless to read.” VideoAge

“A colorful study of the enormously popular Nigerian film industry.” CounterPunch

“Nollywood films are made by and for Nigerians but with stories that have become compelling for Africans all over the continent and beyond. In Nollywood, Emily Witt introduces us to this phenomenon, describing the sorts of films Nollywood makes, the history of how these films have changed over time, and an overview of the directors, producers, marketers and pirates who make the industry what it is today. Writing with an eye for detail and an imagination for the big picture, Witt has produced a wonderful entry point for anyone interested in this dynamic media industry.” —Brian Larkin, Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University, author of Signal and Noise:  Media, Infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria


Boom Time in Nollywood — New York Times Book Review

The Making of Nigeria’s Film Empire — Vice

Inside Nollywood, the booming film industry that makes 1,500 movies a year — PBS NewsHour

Inside Nollywood: Nigeria’s Booming Movie Industry — InsideHook

Pirates and Traders: a sack of oat flour was mysteriously displayed on the front desk — n+1

Please Explain: Nollywood — Midday on WNYC

🎧 Listen to our Underreported with Nicholas Lemann podcast episode with Emily Witt

About the author

Emily Witt
© Noah Kalina

Emily Witt is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the book Future Sex. She has published journalism, essays, and criticism in n+1, the TimesGQ, and the London Review of Books, and was anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing 2011. She has reported from many different countries and was a Fulbright scholar in Mozambique.