Toyin Abraham battles Funke Akindele for Queen of Box Office, to release ‘Alakada: Bad and Boujee’ against ‘Everybody Loves Jenifa’ in December

Nollywood actresses, Funke Akindele and Toyin Abraham, are set to battle to be the Queen of Box Office come December 2024. This was as they announced the release of the latest instalment of their comedy franchises.

A few days ago, Funke Akindele announced December for the premiere of Everybody Loves Jenifa. The actress, however, didn’t give more info about the movie, especially the cast.

Everybody Loves Jenifa may have metamorphosed from Jenifa which became The Return of Jenifa, and a TV series, Jenifa’s Diary.

The first in the franchise starred Funke Akindele as Jenifa, a village girl who travelled to the city searching for fortune. Her quest led her to join a clique of immoral women, leaving her with ups and downs.

Jenifa received four nominations at the 2009 Africa Movie Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Original Soundtrack and Best Nigerian Film. It starred Iyabo Ojo, Ronke Odusanya, Eniola Badmus, Mosunmola Filani and Ireti Osayemi.

The TV series starred Funke Akindele, Juliana Olayode, Lota Chukwu, Paschaline Alex, Lolo1, Falz, Joy Nice, and Michael Uba.

I remember shortly after the huge success of Jenifa, Toyin Abraham followed suit by releasing Alakada which showcased similar comedic vibe. Alakada tells the story of a lady from a poor background trying to fit into society by making up lies about her social and financial status.

Like Funke Akindele, Toyin Abraham also turned her movie into a franchise with Alakada 2 in 2013, Alakada Reloaded in 2017, and Fate of Alakada: The Party Planner in 2020. There were also talks and flyers promoting a coming Alakada sitcom like Jenifa’s Diary. However, I couldn’t find information about it materializing.

The movies have so far starred Toyin Abraham, Arike Adebayo, Femi Adebayo, Grace Oyin Adejobi, Ayanfe Adekunle, Doris S. Ademinokan, Funso Adeolu, Yomi Adeyeri, Bolaji Amusan, Fathia Balogun, Adebayo Salami, Samuel Perry, Odunlade Adekola, Kareem Adepoju, and Kola Ajeyemi amongst others. The film also had cameo appearances from celebrities like Davido, Peruzzi, Swanky, Mercy Eke, Mabel Makun, Cobhams Asuquo and Funke Bucknor.

Just yesterday, the actress announced that fans should expect her latest work, Alakada: Bad and Boujee. While this is good news, some controversy followed the announcement because of the release date. Once again, like Funke Akindele, the actress will premiere her latest Alakada instalment this December. This means Alakada: Bad and Boujee will battle Everybody Loves Jenifa at the cinemas.

Perhaps, Toyin Abraham is also trying to cash in on the December histeria Funke Akindele is known to enjoy as she mostly releases her movies during the period. One thing December is known for in Nigeria is that people are willing to spend money on frivolities during the period and cinema is one of such.

Toyin Abraham will be battling a Funke Akindele who last year December premiered A Tribe Called Judah in cinemas and broke a box office record within 21 days of its release. This made it the first Nollywood film to gross N1bn.

The movie’s success surpassed the actress’ previous films Battle on Buka Street (N668.4m) and Omo Ghetto (N636.1m), which currently sit as the second and third highest-grossing films at the box office, respectively.

A Tribe Called Judah featured Nse Ikpe Etim, Funke Akindele, Timini Egbuson, Ebelle Okaro, Uzor Arukwe, Genoveva Umeh, and Nosa Rex, among others. It is currently streaming on Prime Video.

Other cast included Boma Akpore, Ebele Okaro-Onyiuke, Etinosa Idemudia, Fathia Balogun, Jide Achufusi, Olayode Juliana, Olumide Oworu, Paschaline Alex, Tobi Makinde, Uzor Arukwe and Yvonne Jegede

Toyin Abraham is no stranger to box office success herself even though her best work has only been able to gross half of what Funke Akindele’s third best work (Omo Ghetto) achieved. Fate of Alakada: The Party Planner, the last instalment of her franchise, directed by Kayode Kasum, raked in N17m in the first three days of hitting cinemas. The film reportedly went on to rake in N113.2m at the box office.

The movie was earlier scheduled for release in April 2020 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic which also affected Nigeria. An October 1 release, coinciding with Nigeria’s Independence Day holiday, proved to be a good decision as lockdowns were already over across the country and people were willing to have a feel of outings which includes cinemas.

In December 2022, Toyin Abraham premiered Ijakumo which finally grossed N278m. The actress surpassed her own record when she premiered Mailaka in December 2023 which closed its theatrical viewing with a total gross of N283m.

With December still far away, I expect both actresses to focus more on promotions because I believe publicity can make a poor movie triumph over a good one. They should also note that with Funke Akindele’s constant December success, other movie producers might be considering fixing their films for premieres during the period. However, this trend portends something bad for Nollywood as many might think the only way to record success as a movie producer is to make movies using the template of these popular actresses.

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