What you need to know:
- To many, it was not only a film premiere but a golden opportunity to put Kisumu on the map and market it,
The film Black Panther, which features a cast of black stars — premiered across the world last evening, with the show at Nairobi’s IMax theatre being fully booked.
The film has a big significance for Kenya because it features Lupita Nyong’o as a co-star.
Lupita, the daughter of Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, started her career in Nairobi before making it to the big league in Hollywood, culminating in her winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2014.
At the time, she won for her role in 12 Years A Slave. Her role in Black Panther has caused excitement among local audiences.
“Never before has there been a major Hollywood movie starring black superheroes by a big studio like Disney,” Ms Flora Njagi of Anga IMax, Nairobi, said ahead of the premier.
This is a departure from the past when African, African-American and other actors of colour only featured in minor roles as nannies, doormen and extras.
“In Kenya, from the audience numbers since the film premiered in Kisumu on Tuesday, and from pre-sales of theatre tickets in Nairobi, if this upward arch continues, we expect this to be our best-selling film of all time,” Ms Njagi said.
A ticket for the premier was being sold for Sh1,500.
Before its first screening in Kisumu earlier this week, Black Panther was probably the most hyped and anticipated event in the lakeside town since the August election.
Film enthusiasts poured at Mega City Mall ready to watch the movie starring a local heroine.
To many, it was not only a film premiere but a golden opportunity to put Kisumu on the map and market it, not only as a ‘hotbed of talent’ but also as a tourist destination.
Although Lupita did not attend the Kisumu screening, this did not dampen the spirit of the who is who in the entertainment industry in region.
Aside from film lovers and makers, journalists, both local and international, were present to document the exciting event.
It was an invite-only red carpet affair during which fashion enthusiasts got an opportunity to showcase their best African attires.
Traditional dancers were on hand to welcome guests. The 140-minute movie started showing at 7.30pm. The 300-seater IMax Cinema in Kisumu was fully packed.
Mr Moses Oduwa, a stage and film actor in Kisumu, said:
“I am happy that most of the cast in the movie were Africans. We are usually accustomed to whites in nearly all the movies.
"As an actor, I am proud that the Africa premiere was done in Lupita’s hometown,” Mr Oduwa said.
“It encourages us to work even harder and attain Lupita’s level.”
Kisumu Deputy Governor Matthew Owili welcomed the move to have the movie premiere in the region.
“It is a good opportunity for us as Kisumu residents. It shows the many opportunities the region can offer for not only arts but other investments too,” he said.
At least 1,200 students across the county will watch the movie at the IMax cinemas on February 20 at the invitation of the county government in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Services together with Lupita.
This is aimed at nurturing young and upcoming arts enthusiasts.