The Ghanaian Movie Industry: Who Is Really Making The Money?


I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who is an upcoming actor in Ghana.  We got to talking about the Ghanaian movie industry primarily the scripts and actors’ pay.

Well I was awakened by the information I was privy to receiving and although it was not salacious, it was very insightful.  I came away from the conversation with a few thoughts in mind, hence this article.

Who is making the money in the Ghanaian movie industry?  I am the first to admit that I operate on a ‘western’ mentality because by any stretch of imagination that’s all I know.

In all honesty I will say that I was constantly comparing the Ghana movie industry to the American movie industry.  I will tell you why.  The comparison was on the professional approach to contracts, plagiarism, and permissive use of music in films.  I am not in any way addressing the quality of the scripts.

Let me start with permissive use of music in films. The entertainment industry is a huge one, whether in the USA or elsewhere in the world.  The movie industry cannot strive on dialogue alone.

Several things contribute to the success or failure of a film.  Imagine a James Bond film without the exotic locations and the ‘out-of -this world’ gadgets.  Not so nice, isn’t it?

The movie industry goes beyond the actors, producers and film directors.Major money can be made from a film.  For instance, product placement in movies is strategically done to increase sales for the highlighted product as well as making a film believable.

Movie goers can relate to or identify with the movie (the actor drinking a cup of Coco-cola or carrying a Luis Vuitton bag). Of course the production house would approach certain companies to use their product(s) in the film.

There is a mutual benefit for both the production house doing the film and the company whose produce is used in the film. This takes me to my point on the use of music in films.

I can only speak from the position of the information I received from my friend, so I am not stating categorically that things are definitely as I was informed. However, if, as I was informed these producers use the music of artistes (especially their own African artistes) without permission or financial compensation, I call that a travesty.

As my friend stated, but they (the musicians) should be happy that their songs are in the movie getting exposure.  My answer to that is this; you cannot deposit exposure in the bank to pay your bills.

Here’s my point, we should respect people’s talent and hard work.  The use of music in these (African) films should not be free for all.  The producers/ production houses should get permission from these people and pay them to use their music.

That is how musicians make a portion of their money. Everyone can get paid and should get paid, if they contributed to the finished product, the movie.  Artistes should begin to demand that they are compensated for the use of their music in these films. Fair is fair. If the producers, directors, distributors and actors are making money off these films so too should the musicians.

Next, plagiarism….What is more degrading to a professional than plagiarism?  Plagiarizing scripts in whole or in part is just unacceptable. For those of us who are students having to write research papers do know very well the penalty for plagiarism.

The same way that a person takes the time to do original work, do research, do proper citations, etc., we should demand such behaviours from the people in the movie industry.

My friend was surprised when I informed him that the movies done here in the US have to get permission to use people’s work. I remember a movie Janet Jackson did with TuPac Shakur (the name of it is Poetic Justice), there was a Maya Angelo poem that Janet Jackson’s character wrote, the poem, an original piece of Ms. Angelo titled, Phenomenal Woman, and of course they had to get Maya Angelo’s permission to use her work in the film.

Whether or not there was financial compensation, I cannot say since I really did not look into that. The point is that they could not use the poem without her, Maya Angelo’s, permission. Plagiarism should be a no-no in the movie industry.

So many artistes get wealthy due to royalties stemming from their work, it’s not all about the sales at the time of the release. I really believe that until smart contracts become standard in the African movie industry this non-commitment to excellence and unprofessionalism will reign.

We have to remember that these guys do make money off these films. Once the movie is done, the bucks don’t stop there. They have contracts with distributors around the world. Europe, America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The distributors get their share of the money. Remember that the distributors buy the movies from the production houses to sell to stores (and these independent stores who in turn sell to the general public).

Distributors sell these movies in large quantities. Stores have to buy a certain amount of these films (there is a minimum purchase agreement) whether or not they want that quantity purchase from the distributors.

The stores in turn sell them to the consumers. On average an African (Ghanaian) movie sells for a minimum of $12 USD to $20 USD. So tell me the truth, who is making the money?

I think, until one person (be it local or foreign) sues the pants off these ‘professional crooks’ they will continue to behave this way. The earlier the African, Ghanaian, industry learns that business is business the better it will be for them.

I hear a lot of things like the movie industry in Ghana is young or we are growing, sure I understand that, but that should be an excuse or substitute for professionalism. Business is indeed business and entertainment is business.  After all why should someone become rich off the work of another?

By: Kathy E.L. / GhanaCelebrities.Com/ United States



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8 thoughts on “The Ghanaian Movie Industry: Who Is Really Making The Money?”

  1. wow! this is the article of the year.please chris you should send this out to every production firm in accra so they understand the business as well as the media entertainers and practitioners.


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