Ignoring all previous evidence that NFTs are on the way out, Warner Bros. just launched an NFT partnership for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Working with the Web3 company Eluvio, this NFT re-release will supposedly launch a “WB Movieverse” for movie NFTs.
The actual product here is somewhat puzzling. NFTs are typically considered to be a financial investment, with the “token” hopefully appreciating in value like a collectible antique or artwork. However, the Warner Bros. announcement describes this project in similar terms to a more traditional streaming release.
Retailing at either $100 (for an Epic Edition) or $30 (for a Mystery Edition), each NFT includes a digital copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, plus special features. In other words, the same product that fans have accessed via DVD for the past 20 years. The only new content appears to be “AR collectible items” like a magic wand, an extensive gallery of Fellowship images, and a set of interactive Middle-earth menus to navigate all the features. It’s unclear why this would be more desirable than the pre-existing options to buy the movies, since this process involves the extra step of signing up to a browser-based NFT platform. You can currently buy the extended Fellowship Blu-ray on Amazon for $21.
So far, this NFT launch hasn’t been well-received on social media. As the news spread on Twitter, people mocked the thematic similarities between NFTs and the One Ring. Many commenters also questioned why Warner Bros. was launching this project in the first place, in light of the studio’s recent financial issues.
While the Warner Bros. announcement was praised by some in the NFT/crypto community, these positive comments were outnumbered by people criticizing NFTs as a scam, or posting sarcastic responses like “congratulations you made a dvd menu.”
This launch also comes at an awkward time, both for the NFT market and for Warner Bros. itself. Thanks to some controversial decisions made by Warner Bros. regarding the DC franchise and various animated projects, the studio is currently facing a lot of backlash in the geek-culture sphere—i.e. an obvious audience for Lord of the Rings products.
Plus, NFTs are far less popular now than they were a few months ago. More people are aware of environmental concerns connected to cryptocurrency and NFTs, along with evidence of financial instability for NFT investors, such as Logan Paul allegedly losing millions of dollars. In the context of the recent NFT market crash, this “WB Movieverse” platform feels like it arrived too late for the party.
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