We explore how MovieCoin, Cinezen, White Rabbit, DECENT and SingularDTV are using blockchain to change the way film-making works.
The film industry earned some $40 billion at the box office last year. But while Hollywood has embraced video on demand services such as Netflix, and allows users to rent movies on YouTube, there are areas where movie making can feel stuck in the past.
That’s lead to a slew of blockchain companies looking to help shake up everything from film financing, to hiring film crews and even controlling online piracy.
We take a look at the five companies aiming for stardom and the silver screen.
Investing in the movie business is traditionally done by high-level investors with large bank balances. But what happens if you allow those outside the industry the chance to invest in their favourite films?
That’s the premise behind MovieCoin, a blockchain based startup that’s aiming to overhaul the film financing business.
The platform plans to issue a token that helps raise capital to invest in movies, television programs and other entertainment industry assets.
On top of that, the company have created its own cryptocurrency, which allows consumers to buy and rent films directly from studios without having to pay middlemen like Netflix a slice of the profits.
We all know about Netflix, but the company is built on a centralised model. That means all the data on royalty payments and what people have watched is hidden away by the company.
That gives Netflix and others like it a lot of power: content creators have to go through them in order to access audiences. But what would a video on demand (VOD) platform built on blockchain offer instead?
The company wants to put content creators in control of their data. In the present system, there's no way to verify royalty reports. Instead, they rely on the good will of those in charge of the data. That's not including platforms that are sneakily using content illegally.
On Cinezen, every film is treated as a smart asset and every digital sale or rental is stored as a transaction in a distributed public ledger. This allows both sides of the equation the same access to the information, which nobody controls, and nobody can manipulate.
Online piracy is nothing new. In fact, it costs US firms around $25 billion a year in lost revenues, and as much as 33% of ads on YouTube are on videos uploaded by fans without permission.
White Rabbit wants to fix that.
White Rabbit is a browser plug-in that recognizes the content you watch, without forcing you to subscribe to anyone site. By separating distribution from payment, White Rabbit offers one payment system, but infinite viewing experiences.
When streaming their favorite films or series, smart contracts deduct a payment from users and transfer this immediately to rights holders. Utilizing blockchain technology, rights holders are also ensured complete financial transparency.
In the present film distribution system if you make a film and want to show it anywhere in the world, chances are you’re going to need a distribution company to handle getting your movie into cinemas in different parts of the world.
That’s why you often see films released in one country, and not another. That can lead to lost revenues thanks to piracy. DECENT wants to change that.
It uses blockchain to allow anyone to securely distribute their own content, be it video, music, text or even articles. In addition, the Swiss based company has created a distributed app platform allowing anyone to build their own Dapps on top of DECENT.
That opens the doors for film companies to create their own distribution systems between one another, anywhere in the world.
While we’ve seen many companies exploring the distribution and data control potential of blockchain, one of the more unusual, but no less important comes in hiring the services and crew that create the movies we love to watch.
The team have built a platform allowing anyone to create their own Dapps, which is similar to the Ethereum model. However, one aspect of this project that caught our eye was a peer-to-peer crew and production services hiring application.
This would allow film-makers to connect directly with production professionals in the city they’re creating a project in - as well as take advantage of smart contracts to pay those crews in a quick, transparent way.
This allows not only better traceability of who worked on what, but it means more people would be able to compete for work, in addition to cutting out the need for middlemen.
The film industry, if the internet's arrival and upheaval of how people watched content is anything to go by, is slow to innovate.
However, as we've laid out in the above examples, these companies want to take the industry with them, rather than push them aside. No one wants to see the movie industry disappear.
Blockchain solutions can help money move more quickly, independent film-makers get more viewers and those working in the industry get a fairer deal.
Now that's something we'd pay to see.