Ronnie Apteker
4 min readJan 31, 2019

Once upon a time, well, a few years ago, there was a man with a vision. We call him Kags, and Matwetwe is his baby. Kagiso Lediga, and his team, have made a film that everyone in SA loves. And when you look at the social media activity on Twitter (hashtag #matwetwe), as one measure, it is clear that Matwetwe (Wizard) is the talk of the town.

The film opened on the big screen last week Friday the 25th of January with 16 cinemas showing the film. It was a nail biting weekend, as everyone was anxiously pacing up and down to hear what the numbers were. As a small indie film, with unknown actors, it is always a long shot. How do you get the public to go see your movie with big Hollywood blockbusters on the cinema circuit, all of which have potent marketing budgets. Yes, standing out is always a challenge among all the big international product.

The box office numbers for the opening weekend were fantastic.

The screen average for Matwetwe must be up there with best of the best. The film almost hit the one million Rands mark (R20,000 shy), with well over 16,000 attendances. Remember, this is all on 16 screens. The reigning champion last weekend was Aquaman doing just over two million Rands, on 104 screens. The earnings per screen (screen average) for Matwetwe were over 3 times higher!

Tomorrow, on the 1st of February, we enter into weekend number two, with an increased footprint. Yes, the laws of supply and demand clearly in play. The cinemas know that the numbers never lie. We now have 29 screens, and some bigger houses at some of the key sites.

If the buzz and word-of-the-mouth continues, then there is a chance that the box office will increase from last weekend. If this does happen then that is rare occurrence, and it means that this film is a clear winner. Again, the numbers never lie.

How come this film is getting such an embrace? What happened here? This is my take on things:

  • People are loving the movie. And they are expressing this love online.
  • The viral online buzz (Twitter in particular) got people talking, and buying tickets.
  • Black Coffee has had a serious effect on the buzz (and on the film’s fantastic music). He clearly is respected and admired, and people have trusted his social media Matwetwe posts.
  • The release date and premier date were strategically well executed. It was the first big SA event of the year, and it was payday that weekend, with a media buzzing premier the night before the release with a clear call to action: The movie comes out tomorrow, go go go !!!
  • DSTV’s on air media promo campaign got a lot of eyeballs.
  • Online influencers (DJs, celebrities, bloggers, etc.) and journalists clearly also all loved the film and they too expressed this online.
  • The actors (who were generally all newcomers) have demonstrated an excitement and enthusiasm that is infectious. And these actors were damn good in the movie!
  • Luck — you always need a bit of this.

If people love your product you have an advantage, but, it is never only about this. To have the public trust you, to take a chance, and spend their hard earning money to buy a ticket, is always a challenge. Especially when you are competing with Hollywood. What makes us all very happy is that everyone who bought a ticket loved the experience of seeing this film with an audience that could not stop laughing.

Laughter is always the best medicine, and Matwetwe delivers in spades. It is a cool, crazy, quirky, adventure that is grounded with real and endearing characters that people can relate to.

Here is the trailer :

Tamsin, Luke, Isaac and everyone at Di Prente, you guys have made a golden picture here. And to everyone at UIP, you guys guided us and supported this crazy adventure with inspiration. Multichoice (DSTV) you were also a key participant and made a big difference. Simu and Black Coffee, you guys rock. Doug and Nandos — thank you too for helping us — you guys are peri peri hot.

Friday is the night — bring on the Matwetwe weekend !!!