Please note that the following review is not an endorsement of purchasing the NFTs discussed, and the author does not themself own any of the collection.
One of the most prestigious events in the cinema calendar, the Cannes Film Festival is currently running until the 28th of May. Returning with full spectator capacity for the first time in two years thanks to a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, the event is embracing Web3 technology in a number of ways, including the first-ever NFTCannes Summit hosted by production studio Electromagnetic Productions (EMP), global cryptocurrency financial management company Galaxy Interactive, NFT app OP3N, blockchain platform Avalanche and private investing platform Republic.
The focus of our attention today, however, is an NFT collection that confers access to screenings for some of the biggest films debuting at the festival. In keeping with 2022 being the 75th anniversary of the festival, pplpleaser, a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City, has created a series of 75 NFTs in partnership with video content publisher Brut, an official media partner of the festival.
The artist previously worked in visual effects, with credits in feature films such as Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman and Star Trek Beyond, as well as games from Blizzard and others. She rose to prominence in the NFT world as an early creator of NFT animations, helping to define the anime-indebted aesthetic found throughout the sector.
The collection is divided up into tiers, though each retains the same basic concept of an animated, seemingly anime-inspired white fox (somewhat reminiscent of Moro in the Studio Ghibli classic Princess Mononoke) walking the red carpet and striking a pose. The fox is fluidly animated, with silver tier NFTs featuring tie-ins with films opening at the festival. In the Top Gun: Maverick-themed NFT, it wears a pair of Aviator sunglasses, while in the Elvis-themed piece, it poses with a guitar.
While nice enough, the art is not the main attraction here. Depending on the tier of NFT purchased, different perks are accessible. NFTs in the most numerous bronze tier cost 5 ETH and confer access to the red carpet and a film showing. In the 6 ETH silver tier, holders are invited to the world premieres of Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis and Three Thousand Years of Longing respectively, while the 7 ETH gold tier NFTs enable holders to attend either the opening or closing ceremonies.
The NFTs are minted using the decentralized film distribution platform Shibuya, of which the artist pplpleasr is a founder. The platform is geared towards allowing users to fund and simultaneously guide the production of short films by minting producer pass NFTs. Unlike some other NFT-funded projects, the plan is for completed films to be made available to watch for free, rather than requiring direct NFT ownership to watch (as with Stoner Cats, an NFT collection tied to a series of short films backed, strangely enough, by Mila Kunis).
All proceeds from the NFT sales will be given to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and its Annenberg Accelerator Program, which supports aspiring female content creators.
“The Accelerator Program is one of our many solution-based initiatives to support and develop the next generation of talented female-indentifying creators,” said founder Dr. Stacy L. Smith of the collaboration. “We are thrilled that Brut and pplpleasr have seen the importance of such a project and have chosen to back us in this way.”
Interestingly, the NFTs are initially non-transferrable until they have been redeemed for red carpet access, at which point they can be sold on secondary markets. It’s an intriguing approach, giving what are effectively glorified tickets an afterlife as tradeable collectables that carry with them some of the mystique of the event they were originally for.
Cannes is not the only film festival to have gotten into the NFT game, with the Raindance festival creating a collection based on posters for the festival over the years. The wider film industry, too, is increasingly getting on board with the technology. Just one example is Decentralized Pictures, a blockchain-powered filmmaker platform founded by Roman Coppola and backed by Steven Soderbergh’s production company Extension 765, among others. The DAO-like platform is set to go live during the festival, using a native token, FILMCredits, as a voting mechanism to decide the worthiness of films for funding.
While the Cannes Producer Pass Collection is not going to set the world on fire by itself, it does represent an intriguing new opportunity for a film industry that is rapidly adopting Web3 technology. If Web3 is to succeed, it surely needs the participation of mainstream sectors and combining the glitz and glamour of Cannes, pplpleasr’s art, and a dose of innovative utility is a step in the right direction.