Crypto Corner: Hollywood Embraces Blockchain

Do you ever feel like you’re watching the same movie over and over? Like remake upon remake has been done ad nauseum… I mean, honestly, how many iterations of Spiderman can we see?

Well, we’re in luck, because cryptocurrency has made its way into the film industry and is shaking things up. Much like the advent of the internet changed the way we watch movies forever, the blockchain (the underlying technology upon which cryptocurrency is built) is doing it again, but it’ll be even bigger this time. Because this time, instead of just changing how we watch movies, the blockchain will make us a part of the movies, literally.

Decentralized film (expected to grow to a $1.54 billion industry by next year) is taking direct aim at the concentrated power of the companies currently dominating the film industry. The argument is that huge movie studios and tech companies now largely control content, which has ultimately pushed out creativity, censored diverse voices, homogenized what we watch, and taken advantage of creators… oh look, another Spiderman remake!

One example of these blockchain movie pioneers is, a start-up created to operate in direct opposition to the concentrated powers that be. They aim to break the current power structure by the democratization and decentralization of movie financing. They do this by allowing anyone to invest in production, then take profits on the blockchain through smart contracts.

Fans And Creators Make Money

As it stands right now, about as involved as you can get in traditional movies is by streaming, watching in movie theaters, hitting up actors on social media, and maybe buying a lot of merch and immersing yourself in fandom. As Netflix is finding out, there’s only so much we’re willing to pay for that limited participation. Blockchain movies, on the other hand, are poised to suck fans into films in ways they could have only dreamed of before.

Enter NFTs… but wait, it’s not what you’re thinking. Let’s look at Moviecoin again to illustrate how NFTs will play a part in fan engagement. Currently, Moviecoin is working on a film called Prizefighter, which is about an English bare-knuckle prize-fighter born in the late seventeen hundreds named James (Jem) Belcher staring Russell Crowe (yes, the same Russell that was in 300 and Gladiator).

Moviecoin offers physical props from the movie and their digital NFT counterparts for sale on Opensea (the largest NFT marketplace in the world). When a fan buys an NFT, it represents a 0.016% total profit share of the film, entitling them to make money from the sales made from the film. And since these profits are paid via a smart contract on the blockchain, there’s no worries to be had about whether they’ll get paid or not, it all happens automatically.

A bit of quick math and an imagination and you can see where this is going… and the distribution of money won’t be so stacked from the top. Money will be shared between producers, artists, investors, and actors in a more equitable way, with all parties receiving royalties from any sale of any NFTs using their images forever. Compare that to how it’s currently done… a great example being Flashdance, where the story has made millions and millions, but the woman whose life the movie was based on made a measly couple thousand dollars one time.

Fixing Distribution

Another way blockchain films will disrupt is through circumventing practices used by powerful companies to retain control over which films audiences see and the messaging surrounding those films. And let’s be honest, messaging plays into the perceptions of how good films are, their worthiness, and their actual popularity… think Knives Out here, lots of hype for a solidly average film.

Unless a film is backed by a major movie studio or a streaming site, getting that film in front of audiences can be almost impossible. If the film isn’t being made as part of a streaming site’s original content, getting it into the hands of a distributor is tough… and even then, that distributor gets to say when, where, and how the movie is distributed. Furthermore, how a creator gets paid for their art is a black box, with figures surrounding the film and its reception not being transparent.

That won’t be the case with blockchain-based distribution because that information will be public data on the blockchain. This will help end underhanded tactics used to hide the profit of a film, which can be used to cut creatives out of their share of profits, or seriously underpay them. And fans will be able to see the true numbers, so hyped numbers can’t be used to overinflate a film’s popularity… studios won’t be able to gaslight people into thinking they are freaks for not liking their subpar movies, or downplay a fan favorite (this kind of stuff really ticks off hardcore fans, watch the new Scream movie if you don’t believe me).

Speaking of downplaying a movie, there’s also the issue of censorship or deplatforming, which isn’t hard to do with the current model. Basically, money talks and money in the centralized film industry has the power to shut down voices that may go against dominant narratives. Or dirty tactics can be employed to deplatform anyone coming up organically with the potential to throw a wrench in the profits of huge companies. There are tons of creative voices out there that go unheard simply because they don’t have the money to pay to play.

Decentralized distribution platforms will circumvent these practices and bring material to the masses that can’t be taken down out of the blue because someone found the material offensive or too counter to accepted narratives. Not only will creatives have new avenues for funding and fan engagement, they’ll have the freedom to make content and have it entered into the public arena without fear that a centralized institution on a power trip will do away with it. It’s an exciting prospect.

Be sure you stay tuned, there’s a lot more disruption coming in the creative spaces from blockchain and cryptocurrency. The technology will leave no part of our society untouched, and we’ll be bringing the newest information and insight right to your inbox in coming issues.

Also, if all this talk about movies has you excited, be sure you check out this week’s IPO Corner, where we talk about the newest autonomous vehicle technology… it’s the stuff that Science Fiction is made of!