Film NFTs: The Next Wave of Web3 Innovation

June 30, 2022

The decentralization ethos of web3 has dealt a blow to the antiquated art market system. Digital and traditional artists alike have used NFT (non-fungible token) technology to kick start a new art revolution. Artists, like Cory Van Lew, debuted at Sotheby’s London in 2021 with a digital/physical piece, and artist,  FEWOCiOUS, earned over $2 million in his auction debut at Christie’s. According to music business research DAO, Water & Music, music NFTs generated over $86 million in total revenue in 2021. The arts are thriving as they flip the tables on traditional industries. 

So what’s the next chapter in this web3 era of decentralizing art? Dare, I say film?

The common tale is that Hollywood is controlled by a few studios, but garner billions from global viewership and sales. Film financing has long hindered the auteurs of independent cinema. Oliver Stone couldn’t generate American financiers for Snowden. Spike Lee couldn’t get funding for the sequel to Inside Man, which grossed over $185 million worldwide. If Christopher Nolan wasn’t attached to direct, Inception doesn't see the light of day. Over the past decade, the filmmaking community has turned to crowdfunding to finance films on platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. These days, it’s more appealing for Hollywood to oversaturate movie theaters with superhero action films, irrelevant sequels, and ill-advised remakes of classics. The top grossing films of 2021 were Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Walt Disney), and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony). Sony and Walt Disney distributed three each of the top ten. Houston, we have a problem.

So the question becomes, can web3 re-balance the power structure in the film industry and empower independent filmmakers with more opportunities to tell unique stories?

In December 2021, Niels Juul, the executive producer behind Martin Scorcese’s Silence (2016), The Irishman (2019), and the upcoming Michael Mann-directed Ferrari biopic, announced he was launching NFT Studios, a film production venture with a mission to disrupt the film industry with web3 innovation. Through its subsidiary, Kino DAO, Juul wants to finance the indie dramedy, A Wing and a Prayer, through an NFT sale. With director, Chris Foggin, signed on the film should begin production in September 2022, and the NFT sale would take place between July and August.

This year, Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderburgh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) pledged a $300,000 grant to Decentralized Pictures (DCP), a democratic film fund. DCP was founded by Moonrise Kingdom (2012) screenwriter, Roman Coppola, the son of director Francis Ford Coppola. The fund's goal is to provide financing to finish uncompleted films and begin production on screenplays voted on by the DCP collective. One can become a member in the collective by purchasing an NFT from the FILMCrew Collection via Tezos cryptocurrency on the Rarible marketplace.

In May, NFTs made a splash, debuting at the Cannes Film Festival with a handful of Hollywood stars and startups promoting their #film3 projects. Director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats) promoted his new film, Killroy Was Here, which was pegged the first film release done via NFTs. Smith partnered with Legendao to release 5,555 NFTs that will include access to the film, exclusive content, behind-the-scenes clips, and director’s commentary track.

Cryptocurrency and metaverse companies like Binance, The Sandbox, and Decentraland, hosted events educating festival attendees and the film industry’s elite on web3. #Film3 startups like MovieCoin, FF3, and NextHollywood introduced their various pitches of funding films through NFTs and DAOs.

Web3 is here to disrupt outdated power structures. It will permeate every industry and empower creators and entrepreneurs with opportunities to innovate and launch projects. Artists will shape the future of traditional business and commerce. #Film3 is gaining momentum in Hollywood and among indie filmmaking communities. 

It’s not “if” but “when” NFT technology and web3 innovations will change the landscape of the film production process. Bringing with it a new level of empowerment for this generation’s filmmakers, through funding, ownership, and direct connection with fans.


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