when cinema rediscovers the My Major Company model

Seen as a means of maintaining control over one’s works, NFTs allow the transfer of specific rights that become an alternative source of funding for studio investments.

Against the much too voluntary and commercial choices of the record majors, become the producer yourself! Thus, My Major Company was born in 2007, with the promise of Internet users that, in exchange for producer shares, they would choose the artists to be signed by this new label. In the end, internet users funded the recording and it was indeed a big one, Warner Music, who took care of the marketing of the albums. For labels, independence stops at the borders of distribution chains.

NFTs have raised the same bet on the side of independent film and animated series producers. NFTs – non-fungible token – are digital assets whose ownership has been certified in the blockchain and which have the particularity of being unique – they are therefore not fungible, like bitcoins, where one currency is worth another (see the brake no. 57-58, p.75). They are also unidentified or poorly identified legal objects, but they always bear witness to a property right. Rarely expensive, in 2021 prices skyrocketed for certain virtual objects sold in the form of NFT, such as the work Every day: the first 5000 days by American artist Beeple. In March 2021, Christie’s included it in its NFT takedown program and opened the auction for $100. It eventually sold for $69.3 million. Art, like fashion, loves excess. So there will be NFTs to dress your avatar, your character, in a completely unique and expensive way, finally these worthy representatives of ourselves in the virtual worlds, be it video games, metaverses or, more prosaically, our presence on digital social are networks.

In cinema, NFTs are also seen as a new source of income. Quentin Tarantino wanted to sell NFT script pages and outtakes from pulp fiction† Besides that the intellectual property exists outside the blockchain and the producer of the film – Miramax Studios, currently controlled by beIN Media Group and ViacomCBS – believed that the contract with Quentin Tarantino prohibited him from marketing these elements of the film, which led to a complaint, in November 2021, in a California court.

Sometimes NFTs are not only used to generate additional income but can also be the source of funding for the work. In this case, characters are offered for sale, profit sharing at work, joining a fan club, or viewing the work itself… and the fans are there. Both producers and artists, in turn, can fully control their rights as they decide what they want to sell. The emblematic example is the series Stoner Cats, whose financing in the form of NFTs was launched in July 2021: 10,000 NFTs were put up for sale at 0.35 Ether (the currency linked to the Ethereum blockchain), or about $800, which sold in thirty-five minutes . The transferred NFTs are here a right of access to the produced episodes. The enthusiasm was general because the stars were there to give their voice to the different cats : Mila Kunis, founder of the project, but also Ashton Kutcher. Mila Kunis explained in a podcast the reasons for using NFTs to grant access to this series, reasons that testify to the artists’ desire to appropriate the part of the rights hitherto held by the studios : “I produce content for TV and I had to make an animated series for a channel. There is so much content, and I have so little control once it’s sold, that I wanted to return ownership of the content to the artist. I want a transparent system. So I thought I was going to do it in NFT. †

But just like My Major Company had to create fuss to make the artists produced viable, making the “stars” of the star academy, it is highly likely that NFTs’ financing of films and series, if it can promote independent production, will remain subject to marketing logic. The gamble here is whether the promotion of works can do without the majors, giant SVOD services, and rely only on online initiatives that will promote greater diversity of works and investments. Ultimately, it’s about recapturing the long-tail deployment, such as in the field of music.

sources:

  • “Mila Kunis creates Stoner Catsan animated series available in NFT”, 20minutes.fr, July 27, 2021.
  • Miramax and Quentin Tarantino clash over ‘s NFTs pulp fiction », Nicolas Rauline, the echoesNov 18, 2021.
  • “NFTs are opening up a new way of financing films and series”, Nicolas Madelaine, the echoesDec 30, 2021.

Leave a Comment