NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are the latest fad sweeping across the digital world, with the most famous celebrities, content creators, and virtually anyone who has an online presence attempting to get onto this trend. NFTs are being used to sell art, music, games, videos and exclusive content, with some auctions fetching unbelievable prices, and thus it is no surprise to see how attractive they have become for content creators, especially during this time, where several other revenue streams have been hit badly due to the pandemic. In a similar manner, it is quite interesting to see how movies and the global film industry understand what these tokens are and can use NFTs to their benefit, since we have also seen how various big-budget movie releases have all been delayed over the past year, due to movie theatres being shut. NFTs can therefore provide an alternative revenue source, and filmmakers all over the world are latching onto this concept quickly.
The indie film Lotawana became the first movie in the world to be sold as an NFT recently. It is directed by the Emmy-winning filmmaker Trevor Hawkins, who has also self-financed the movie, and Hawkins and his team sold the rights and world premiere of the movie on the Blockchain marketplace OpenSea.io. The movie rights were sold for $1,000 per share, while the world premiere rights went for $100 per share, with 1,000 shares being sold of each. Thus, this small indie project has made history, but several others have followed already in its wake. Claude Lanzmann: The Spectre of the Shoah became the first Oscar-nominated movie to be sold as an NFT – it was nominated for the 2016 Oscars in the documentary film category. This is the first time that the movie has been made available for purchase in any form, physical or digital, with 10 first edition copies of the movie being auctioned on the digital collectible site Rarible, and each copy was sold for 200 ETH. In terms of future productions, Kevin Smith is planning to auction his latest horror movie anthology, Killroy Was Here, as an NFT, while he has also set up a crypto marketplace to sell merchandise featuring the iconic characters Jay and Silent Bob from his View Askewniverse series of movies. The NFT trend has spread to other markets globally as well – the Indian short film For Those That Watch Me Dream has been listed on OpenSea as well, making it the first Indian film to be sold as an NFT, at a base price of 0.3 ETH.
These examples all show how NFTs are already beginning to have an impact in filmmaking all over the world, but it is also important to understand the benefits that NFTs can bring to this sector. At the moment, there is a supply and demand problem with movie-making, especially small-budget and indie films – there are too many movies being made, which serves to devalue all of them. This is the reason why Amazon, for example, can pay as little as $0.01/hour in streaming royalties to moviemakers, and in that regard, NFTs represent a significant step forward to allow moviemakers to control their finances and be able to earn more from their content. The movie industry is going in the same direction as the music industry, which saw a similar issue with the advent of music streaming, and now is embracing NFTs as a way to ensure that artists are able to earn properly from their songs.
The value of NFTs also lies in the fact that many buyers pick up these tokens not just because of the content, but because they believe that they will appreciate in value. Thus, an NFT bought today for $1,000 could be worth $10,000 in a few years time, depending on the creator and the content itself. While this provides huge value to the buyer, it also benefits the original creator, since they collect a royalty percentage every time the NFT is sold second-hand. Thus, NFTs can not only provide immediate funds, but they can also be a source of income for years, especially if that token proves to be in-demand and popular, and is therefore resold a number of times. Thus, we can see how the NFT trend can potentially transform the moviemaking business, and so we believe that this is only the beginning for NFTs in this sector.