Like the plot in an old-fashioned movie, cinemas in Africa are making a third-reel comeback after years of worrying decline. In many countries south of the Sahara, digital technology, strong investment and modern theatres are bringing about a major revival of movie-going, ending years of cinema closures. But this good news for film-lovers also comes with a drawback: the new cinema complexes tend to give precedence to Hollywood blockbusters rather than films made by African directors. In the 1980s, a wave of cinema closures began to unfurl across the continent as rundown picture palaces were turned into car repair shops, supermarkets, restaurants and even churches. The survivors were a number of privately owned venues and cinemas inside international cultural centres. Today, continent-wide figures for the industry are sketchy, but cinema owners say the sector is making a comeback. It is being driven by demographic demand and digital technology that provides immediate, low-cost distri...

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