From ‘masked singer’ to Reese Witherspoon, Hollywood takes on NFTs – three insiders reveal how tech can drive marketing and new IP in 2022
- Hollywood creators and companies are increasingly interested in NFTs and blockchain.
- Reese Witherspoon, “Law & Order” producer Dick Wolf and the “Masked Singer” have created or invested in NFTs.
- From intellectual property to storytelling, here’s how entertainment can maximize the NFT space as it grows in 2022.
Producer Dick Wolf’s entertainment empire spans much of the American television psyche. The current broadcast season devotes entire evenings to its criminal procedurals: Three variants of the “FBI” franchise on CBS on Tuesday nights, NBC’s Troika “Chicago” on Wednesday, and Long-running “Law & Order: SVU” and its companion series on Thursdays.
But when Wolf Entertainment entered a new realm of storytelling this fall, partnering with NFT Curio platform to create “The Wolf Society” – a “membership-based society for online sleuths powered by Non-fungible tokens– the 75-year-old producer and blockchain-based market team struck some observers as a headache.
However, at a time when Reese Witherspoon touts the merits of crypto on social networks, ViacomCBS exploits the archives of “SpongeBob” for NFT potential, and Fox released WWE and “Masked Singer” tokens, Hollywood is dig into the cyberasset.
Insider spoke to three business executives in the space — from legacy broadcaster Fox to digital startups — about the current NFT landscape in Hollywood and how it can grow in 2022.
Many NFTs that have appeared in entertainment are essentially works of art — similar to trading cards — like the 10,000 free “Miss Masky” collectibles Fox gave away in October through the “Maskverse.” As more NFTs become available, users will be able to collect, purchase and trade other “Masked Singer” NFTs on the Eluvio platform, which Fox invests in.
“We intentionally tried to make onboarding and acquisition easy and cost effective,” said Scott Greenberg, CEO of Fox Animation Studio Bento Box and its Blockchain Creative Labs. “We intentionally didn’t want speculators to come in and push prices up.”
Greenberg believes NFTs will become a business for Hollywood, not just a marketing tool; he said Fox has a $100 million fund for creators that he plans to roll out more widely in 2022.
Curio co-founder Ben Arnon echoed the idea that the NFT marketplace can support more than digital art by offering new intellectual property. The company has partnerships with studios and production companies such as Universal Pictures and Fremantle. In April, Anonymous content opted for an NFT of astronaut character Aku, in partnership with Shawn Mendes’ Permanent Content joint venture.
“We started with the thesis that if we could merge mainstream IPs with NFTs, we could bring mainstream consumers into the NFT space,” Arnon said. “We initially started releasing NFTs that function as digital collectibles, and over time we have infused much more utility.”
“Wolf Society,” which features fictional cold cases written by TV writers and game creators, is “groundbreaking, both in terms of the NFT landscape and also the landscape of cross-platform storytelling,” Arnon said. .
With Witherspoon, Quentin Tarantino, Grimes, John Cena and Cara Delevingne (and her vagina-focused NFT) are among the most high-profile names that have backed NFTs – although, as Bloomberg has warned, celebrity-focused tokens tend to depreciate quickly. And Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” NFT Plans Have hit a legal snag.
Since cryptocurrency enthusiasts are predominantly male, the founder of Worklife and venture capitalist Brianne Kimmel praised Witherspoon’s presence in the space as a star producer who is “friendly, approachable, a known proponent of female founders and female empowerment,” Kimmel said. Kimmel is an angel investor and founder of Adam Bomb Squad, creator of one of the NFTs Witherspoon picked up in December with a Madam Bomb Squad Pink Wink token.
“I’m excited to see women having a much stronger voice and finding ways for women to really use NFTs as an entry point into crypto,” Kimmel said. And it’s no exaggeration to imagine that Witherspoon, whose Hello Sunshine production shingle is intentionally invested in intellectual property which amplifies women’s voices and opportunities, could see storytelling potential in its new assets.
As Hollywood explores the technology, NFT backers hope the assets will expand their reach and functionality.
“We’re betting on mainstream adoption,” Fox’s Greenberg said. “There’s a lot more utility in NFTs and composability, where your NFT, multiple NFTs together, do something else. And where owning an NFT gives you access to a physical place in real life, or digital games, or, like, a subscription to stuff.
“We’re going to see, really, the depths of use with more mainstream opportunities,” he said, and “more functional [uses] that just, ‘What is this digital thing I collected?’