Has the film industry finally bitten the blockchain bug? A new set of digital collectables have been announced: Warner Bros are releasing a collection of NFTS for The Matrix & Quentin Tarantino has announced a limited selection of NFTs for his classic film Pulp Fiction.
Given The Matrix’s themes surrounding the “metaverse”, the franchise seems primed to take advantage of a growing NFT space. The digital collection will feature both “red pill” & “blue pill” collectables. Fans of Pulp Fionction will be able to get their hands on seven uncut scenes from the movie, which will be available via auction on the NFT Marketplace OpenSea. This isn’t the first time a film company has entered the NFT space as Lionsgate has already released a series of NFTs for the Saw franchise earlier this year.
NFTs stand for Non Fungible Tokens. Much like cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin) and crypto tokens (like Enjin), NFTs use Blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to provide digital proof of ownership. If you’re old enough to remember the Pokémon card craze of the early 00’s it’s the equivalent of being able to create digital collectables: they can be of pictures, videos, even VR/AR art, which can be accessed via your crypto wallet. Even the NBA has already “minted” and released their own NFT collection: NBA Top Shot. Blockchains are very much in their infancy, NFTs even more so, therefore it will be interesting to see how the minting of these collectables is received.
Whilst protocols that govern how information is shared across the internet is standardised, Blockchains operate on a number of different protocols, often without interoperability with each other, additionally, they often lack wallet solutions that are both secure yet easy to use for the wider public. So whilst fans of Tarantino and The Wachowski’s may want to get their hands on the digital collectables on offer, it may be a while before we see true broader public adoption.
Whilst it can be easy to dismiss Cryptocurrencies as a passing phase (and there are undoubtedly some outright scams in the crypto space), The crypto space has exploded since Bitcoin came onto the scene in 2009 to now a total market capitalisation of £2 Billion / $2.8 Billion (at the time of writing). Film studios are always looking for ancillary revenue; as merchandise sales and licensing provide additional revenue (MCU Merchandise generated $41 Billion for Disney in 2020) so digital collectables can be seen as part of the merchandising offering. Additionally, Blockchains are also starting to address environmental concerns of critics: Ethereum’s 2.0 upgrade will reduce the second-largest Blockchain’s energy consumption by 99.95% and carbon-neutral blockchains such as Wax.io have been developed to address environmental concerns – like those expressed by the billionaire Elon Musk.
The possibilities of blockchain use within the film industry are not limited to just NFTs; applications in film licensing and even crowdfunding can allow filmmakers to have better ways to track their work and help to avoid “Hollywood Accounting”. With Facebook’s rebranding to Meta, we can also expect more companies will make use of digital tools and environments to create new ways of engaging fans in the new virtual space. For example, one of the biggest media blockchains currently in the broadcast space is the Theta Network, which acts as an alternative to YouTube, the blockchain network has hosted a number of live stream screenings in collaboration with distributor Lionsgate Films. We’ll continue to see what the future holds for Blockchains & the film industry.