NFTs and Web3, in general, don’t have a rosy reputation amongst the general public. A major film studio releasing one of the most popular and beloved IPs of all time as a multimedia NFT experience could work wonders for onboarding people into the space and destigmatizing blockchain technology overall.
WBHE is aware of this fact. As such, the company has decided to make the process as smooth as possible for the non-Web3 initiated. Fans wishing to buy the NFT can do so by heading to web3.wb.com and creating an Eluvio media wallet by registering their email address (or logging in with their MetaMask wallet). This acts like a digital vault that lets users stream and purchase content either by credit card or with cryptocurrency.
“We are always looking for ways to delight and surprise our movie fans and film collectors,” said Jessica Schell, EVP & GM, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment, while speaking to nft now. “We have a really rich archive of content, and we’re committed to staying on the forefront of new technologies. [Buying the NFT] is designed to be frictionless. When you see the movie, it’s really easy to miss that it’s actually using Web3 or NFTs under the hood. This is for the fans of the franchise. It’s not just for early NFT adopters or crypto fans.”
The NFT includes the complete 4K UHD feature film version of the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, interactive themed navigation, explorable image galleries, discoverable AR collectibles, and more. The Mystery Edition NFT (of which there will be 10,000 editions) comes with one of three interactive location-based navigation menus from one of the film’s locations: The Shire, Rivendell, or the Mines of Moria. The Epic Edition NFT (featuring 999 editions) includes all three locations, additional interactive image galleries, and various other features.
“We’ve created a unique blockchain-based protocol and network for content that allows for content to be stored and streamed in a decentralized fashion, where all the ownership is blockchain-controlled,” said Michelle Munson, CEO, and co-founder of Eluvio, in an interview with nft now. “This [film] doesn’t rely on a Web2 content distribution network like a CDN or a cloud stack for any of the functions to store and deliver it straight from the source. The experience is what’s minted as an NFT. That’s something that Warner can build upon, the fans can build upon, [in a way] that really hasn’t existed before. The underlying tech allows the content to evolve. New content can be added, and that can be personalized for the user. Future films could also be released this way as a part of an integrated experience.”
The Eluvio Content Blockchain providing the technical backbone for the NFT release uses a protocol that doesn’t make digital file copies and reduces network storage and usage requirements compared to traditional streaming or other content distribution systems. The chain also runs on proof-of-authority consensus, meaning it avoids the environmental cost of proof-of-work mechanisms.
“This is one of our preeminent IPs,” said Schell of the beloved film franchise WBHE has chosen to launch their movieverse with. “We treat the custodianship of franchises like this with so much love and respect for the legacy of these films. We were very careful in the partner we selected and did a lot of vetting of Eluvio and felt really good about partnering with them.”
The entertainment industry has long shown signs of flirting with Web3 and NFTs. In August, Dan Harmon and Fox Entertainment released an NFT collection that allows users to have a say in the creative direction of Harmon’s new show. In 2021, Anthony Hopkins starred Zero Contact, the first feature-length film released as an NFT. On the funding side of things, filmmakers have begun to turn to NFTs as a way to raise money for their projects, freeing them from the need to use crowdfunding platforms.
NFTs could upend the streaming industry, changing how fans interact with and own the content they watch. Rather than passive streaming experiences, projects like WBHE’s Lord of the Rings NFT release might serve as a model for other big brands in the space to follow or build upon, giving users more immersive, dynamic experiences with the IPs they know and love.