Nigeria – An Abandoned Nollywood Film Studio

Nollywood Film Studios, Nigeria.This was quite a surprising find.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

I read about Tinapa Studios when researching the possibility of visiting a Nollywood Film Studio in Nigeria.

After India, Nigeria has the second most productive film industry in the world, producing an estimated 50 movies per week. I was hoping to get a glimpse at some of the magic behind the scenes.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria entrance

Up to date information about Tinapa Studios was sparse.

With conflicting stories and vague articles about it’s demise, I decided to take the 14 hour bus journey from Lagos to Calabar to find out more.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

It was worth it.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

The Tinapa Business District and Resort was supposed to have it all.

Film studios, a free trade zone, a mall, a casino, a leisure centre, cinemas, nightclubs, restaurants and a resort hotel beside a man-made lake. Wow.

Sadly, these dreams were brought down to Earth less than 10 years after it’s launch.

Tinapa Shopping Complex

The taxi driver dropped me off at an empty parking lot about 30 minutes outside of Calabar. He was confused as to why I wanted to be dropped off there and didn’t want to leave me in the middle of nowhere so I promised to take his number and call him if I needed help.

Surrounding the parking lot were the large modern structures of the studios, the free-trade mall and the entertainment centre buildings.

Tipana Monorail

The nearest building was the unused monorail. With only 3 stops, it was built to shuttle visitors between the leisure centre, resort and convention centre across the river. In a country with widespread power shortages, this was always going to be difficult to maintain.

Tipana Monorail

The monorail was in amazing shape. It looked like it had never been used.

But the main goal of my trip was to visit Tinapa Studios, so I decided to try to find it before someone noticed me. I headed to the largest odd shaped structure and immediately found the entrance to the park.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

I was warmly greeted by a large set of dinosaurs.

Dinosaur statues, film studio entrance
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

The studios are only 12 years old, but you can see how quickly the features are deteriorating in the hot Nigerian sun.

I quickly made my way around the reception to the centre of the complex.

Dinosaur statues, film studio entrance

It was immediately evident that it was no longer operational.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

There is an open air theatre in the middle of the studios and a large globe dominated most of the viewpoints around the area. The globe contains a small auditorium for screening films.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

Much of the site was in fairly good condition, so it most likely stopped being used only a year or two before.

I made my way to the massive studio buildings used for filming.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria - Studio 1
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria - behind the scenes
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria - behind the scenes

Inside was mostly rubbish and some partially used sets.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria sets
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria props
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria props

Behind the building there were some dodgy characters lurking around.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria props
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria props
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

Most of the office buildings were empty.

It was sad to see the 3D model of the site in the reception building.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria entrance

The most surprising part the Tinapa story is that unlike many projects with big dreams, it was successfully completed in 2007 with an estimated initial budget of €400 million in an area covering over 80,000 square metres.

This included an entertainment complex, an international free-trade zone and business district.

Tipana Entertainment Complex Arcade
Tipana Entertainment Complex Arcade

However in the end, the people just did not come to Tinapa. Calabar was far too remote to compete with Lagos.

Blocked shipments and bureaucratic delays with the free-trade zone most likely contributed to it’s eventual closure. As is sadly the case around the world, the vision did not align with the government, the business and the needs of the people.

Tinapa Shopping Complex
Tinapa Shopping Complex

Exploring the rest of the complex resulted in familiar scenes.

The mall looked like a scene in an apocalypse movie. Many of the shops still contained their original stock.

Tinapa Shopping Complex

This was so close to becoming something real and I truly hope someone is able to rescue it.

It would be a tragic waste if this was left to decay over time.

Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria
Dinosaur statues, film studio entrance
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria
Nollywood Film Studios Nigeria

It was a great urbex of an abandoned movie studio and a lucky find. For more abandoned explorations, see my blogs on Jonestown in Guyana and Juragua in Cuba.


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