Prince Tikare is an architect who builds cinemas. The Nigerian, born in London made his initial entry into his fatherland as a six year year old, and ended up spending the better part of subsequent years schooling in Nigeria till his teenage years. He eventually ended up at the Metropolitan University, Kingston University and the Architectural Association in London to earn full qualifications in Architecture, a field where he has quietly built a reputation and carved an uncommon niche for himself, building cinemas across the world.
Tikare has since brought his experience in the diaspora to bear in Nigeria since 2006 when he was contacted to build a cinema while busy on a project in Port-Harcourt with an Italian architect. The project was the Genesis Centre building to also house cinemas which the Italian contractor could not handle. ” Kidnapping was rife then and they had to be tactical about who to bring in, and honestly, there were not many people like me around,” says Tikare.
Tikare decided to take it on. “We started from scratch, concerning my duty of designing and even coming up with the name for branding, then the contract stage,” he says. At the period, Tikare saw the timing as right, even if it was no easy weight to bear. “I took up everything, and it was another ball game compared to when I was with Warner Brothers with a whole team of competent hands involved,” he says.
Designing cinemas is his turf. He was armed with the experience of delivering on such projects even at grander scales for Warner Brothers International Theatres, building cinemas in Spain, Japan, Germany, the United kingdom, Portugal and Italy. He had spent close to four years working across Europe and Asia with the giant establishment. And that was after his stint with his first employers after college where he was involved in the project of designing the Blue Water Retail Park, the biggest in Europe, and the Vue Birmingham Star City, perhaps also the world’s largest cinema.
While on that Genesis Cinema project, Tikare rolled all duties into one. ” I was my own Accountant, Quantity Surveyor, sourced for building materials across the globe, negotiating the best of deals,” he said. He was in Hong Kong when the deal to build the Palms Cinemas came. And he left immediately for Nigeria to take over the project, after placing orders for the procurement of the materials needed to execute the project.
On home soil and over the, years, Tikare has been busy with building a string of cinemas. He is the technical brain in terms of design and building of cinema screens including Filmhouse Calabar, Filmhouse Asaba, Filmhouse Ibadan, Dugbe, Filmhouse Ibadan, Samonda, Filmhouse Kano, Filmhouse Port-Harcourt, Filmhouse Apapa, Filmhouse Surulere and Filmhouse Surulere Extension. He has also done Genesis Port-harcourt, Genesis The Palms, with designs for cinemas to open soon in Calabar and Ikorodu.
Tikare is quick to highlight the inherent gains in the cinema industry. He estimates it’s worth at close to a billion dollars, backed with the fact that the entertainment Industry is tops in the ratings of fastest growing sectors of the economy. “Filmhouse and Genesis alone are worth $150 million in assets. There’s film distribution and cinema. I think it makes more sense to merge them as an entity. Then you have to add Silverbird. I think my estimation of the overall worth is fair enough considering there are other cinemas being built already to open soon, ” Tikare disclosed.
Tikare believes there is a need to demystify the intricacies of the cinema industry, to further attract investment. According to him, the cinema enterprise is being cautiously embraced only by investors who have had the privilege of being reassured by experts like him who are in short supply. “Typically, people ponder about the cost and if they will get returns on their investment, preventing many from delving into it,” the cinema builder noted.
Tikare points out avenues that assures returns on investment. According to him, people will spend more at cinemas with the right ambience provided, especially when the cinemas are easily within reach. ” At Genesis Palms on Sunday mornings for instance, three screens are rented out to churches all through the year. Then you have advertisements and products marketing. You apply the proper business model, not merely relying on ticket sales. The film you show is like a bait to get people through the doors and you then get more from their impulse status on spending on food, drinks, popcorn etc, made available at the cinema grounds,” Tikare volunteers.
The cinema builder believes investment in Nigeria concerning cinemas can be recouped in two year or less if the facility is properly situated and managed. ” Lagos has a population of about 20 million people and has about 10 cinemas. London has 9 million people with over 100 cinemas. London may be richer, but with a different business model here, the gains are assured,” Tikare submits.
Through his SGI design and build outfit, Tikare has chosen to democratize the whole cinema building venture, offering a full spectrum of services to that end, including design construction, business planning and management. And he is poised on taking it beyond these shores, with his gaze towards Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya Namibia and Zambia where the potentials are waiting to be tapped.