Hollywood is expanding its revenue streams.
Over the last few years, blockchain, crypto, and NFTs have become talking points not just with your finance friends, but across every industry.
As governments work to figure out how to convert and regulate these markets, people have been trading and using these assets to buy and sell different products. It wasn't going to be long before Hollywood caught up to the trend.
Hollywood Is Trying to Use Blockchain and NFTs
We first noticed it in March, when Legendary Entertainment launched two new exclusive NFT collections with Boss Logic and Terra Virtua Ltd. Their aim was to sell NFTs related to Godzilla vs. Kong. They offered exclusive, collectible NFTs of the two monsters fighting. It felt revolutionary as a revenue stream, but it was just beginning.
Now, Fox Entertainment has announced a $100 million “creator fund” for the NFT space. They're doing this through Blockchain Creative Labs, and their goal is to "operate a digital marketplace dedicated to commercializing characters, background art, and GIF non-fungible tokens (NFTs) related to the series and other projects that join the platform."
Joining Fox in similar ventures are Marvel and Orbis Blockchain Technologies Limited, which will create NFTs from popular Marvel franchise characters, films, and other parts of the universe.
Who Else Is Buying In?
It's not just about studios making moves. Manager and producer Michael Sugar told Coinbase Bytes that “the NFT boom has led to a sizable shift in the creator economy by effectively cutting out the middleman known as distribution. Clients and producers can reach their audiences where they are.”
Even agencies are getting in on the act. Just this week UTA signed NFT Art Projects CryptoPunks, Meebits and Autoglyphs.
“I would say that it is one of the first opportunities for an IP that fully originated in crypto-world to enter a broader entertainment space, and they earned it,” Lesley Silverman, head of UTA Digital Assets, told The Hollywood Reporter. “They really have hit the zeitgeist in a tremendous way.”
CAA has joined the party. It was recently announced that CAA will work alongside seven external Theta Enterprise Validator and Governance Council members, including Google, Samsung and Sony, as well as major private equity and cryptocurrency firms to help facilitate blockchain in Hollywood.
Michael Yanover, CAA's head of business development, said in a statement, "We believe that blockchain technology and the rise of digital collectible NFTs will bring unprecedented opportunities to our family of storytellers, trendsetters, icons and thought leaders in the entertainment industry."
Where Does This Leave the Audience?
Many people are encouraged by Hollywood's embracing of blockchain and NFTs, because they think it will decentralize the decision-making process from executives and studios, giving the audience much more power. What kind of power?
Blackfort Wallet & Exchange wrote on Medium, "The thing is, viewers don’t have the right to choose. A small group of men from the world’s production companies decides for billions of people what to watch. All of this leads to the extinction of a quality picture. So, this is where blockchain comes to the rescue again. A game-changing technology allows you to decentralize film-making decisions and financing. The main character in the movie factory will finally become a viewer. He will be able to vote in favor of a new film as well as finance its production. If successful, a person can make a profit."
They tell the story of a director who financed his entire movie by preselling tokens. If enough of the audience bought tokens, they would have the money to make the movie they wanted, without having to get development notes or go through a studio.
Of course, this works better if workers value the tokens and want to work for them, or if the director sells all the tokens and then uses the cash to make the movie.
How Does This Matter for Those Breaking In?
In terms of raw data, according to Statista, the online TV and movie industry in the USA is projected to lose 11.58 billion US dollars to piracy in 2022. In addition, the Hollywood Diversity Report 2019 states that less than 1 out of 10 film writers are people of color, which is disproportionate to the number of people working in Hollywood.
Hollywood has a ton of problems, and blockchain seems like it might be able to help solve them by democratically allowing people to pick what they want to see.
If you can build your own coin, you can have people buy it and use the money to make your movie. That's basically a more advanced Kickstarter, although you would have to convert the money. You could also have people buy something like Cardano, which has risen from around $1.30 this year to almost $3, thus making you more money for your budget. Of course, this goes the other way—if the coin value drops, so does your ability to pay for things.
I think the most likely scenario is the ability to sell NFTs of your work to make the budget back. If you have limited stills or art you sell as NFTs, you might be able to even sell them before the film to raise more money.
The most important thing here is independence. You are not reliant on studios or financiers as long as the audience is paying to see the movie. Maybe everyone who buys in gets a link and an NFT, then you release it that way. These are all hypotheticals, and we are learning as we go.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.