Russell Crowe’s Prizefighter: How NFTs let $100 investors fund movies

·6 min read

Watch: The Crypto Mile: Episode 5 - The Future of Filmmaking and Web3

Crypto film funding has hit Hollywood, with the latest blockbuster starring Russell Crowe, Ray Winstone and Matt Hookings being part-financed with pre-sale NFTs.

This week's episode of The Crypto Mile has dissected this new 'crypto-wave' of filmmaking, that promises to disrupt how movies are financed, distributed and exhibited, and could turn the Hollywood industry on its head.

Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher was partly funded using NFTs that lower the barrier of entry into the world of film financing and allow anyone to become an investor in the movie business.

The British-American boxing biopic was released this week on Amazon Prime (AMZN) and was written and produced by Matt Hookings, who also plays the lead role of Jem Belcher who became the youngest ever boxing world champion.

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Hookings has been on the road with two-time world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury promoting the film and in his interview with The Crypto Mile, he discussed the way the film used pre-sale NFTs for financing and plans to release digital collectable content associated with the movie, also as NFTs.

Matt was accompanied to the Yahoo studio by James Mackie, the Team Lead at Moviecoin, the NFT film funding platform that designed the NFTs deployed for Prizefighter's funding round.

Russell Crowe in Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher (Camelot Films)
Russell Crowe in Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher (Camelot Films)

Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher

Hookings is the actor, producer and writer of the latest boxing biopic to be distributed as an Amazon exclusive. He describes it as an audience-driven film, and part of the interest in the production is how NFTs played a crucial role in ensuring the film got made.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance Hookings described the trials and tribulations in getting the film made, he said: "We tried to make an independent film, with a studio level cast during covid and without support from the core film bodies in the UK, such as Film Wales and the BFI.

"We got to the point where we were filming in Malta and we reached out to James from Moviecoin to see if there was anything we could do to bring in Moviecoin and raise some more funding through NFT presales.

"At the last minute we managed to pull in the funding with James's help through Moviecoin NFTs as Russell Crowe had to get to Malta and certain costs had gone up."

Crypto start-ups, such as, have ambitions to disrupt the film industry's traditional funding procedures by offering the chance for anyone to invest in film production and take a share of the profits via the blockchain.

The start-up was created as a response to the concentration of film industry power into fewer and fewer hands. Moviecoin’s long-term goal is to break the power of the monopolies through decentralising and democratising the world of movie finance.

Read more: ‘Netflix killers’: How crypto film start-ups are using the blockchain to disrupt Hollywood

Speaking on this week's The Crypto Mile, Team Lead at Moviecoin James Mackie said: "The whole idea of is to fund movies using crypto or NFTs.

"To create the NFTs we decided to take props from the film, such as boxing gloves that Russell Crowe or Matt was wearing, and made the props into NFTs.

"We then sold these NFTs and unbelievably when we put them up on the NFT marketplace on the first day one of them sold for $5,000.

"We were then able to convert that money at the time from ethereum (ETH-USD) into a fiat currency and give that to Matt to help fund the movie."

Moviecoin operates an NFT scheme that allows for a profit share for investors in the films on their platform.

This is lowering the barrier for anyone to become an investor in a movie, and at the moment you can buy one of the NFTs for as little as $100.

So the minimum entry to own a share of the profits of a movie is now $100, whereas traditionally to become a financier of a feature film with a share in the profits, a person would need at least $100,000. profit share NFTs have now migrated to the Polygon network, which is a side-chain of the Ethereum blockchain.

NFTs on the Polygon (MATIC-USD) network can be bought for a fraction of the transaction fees that are usually associated with Ethereum.

The average transaction fees, or gas fees, on the Polygon Matic network range from $0.0005 to $0.2.

We Met in Virtual Reality

Also on this week's show was Joe Hunting, the director of 'We Met in Virtual Reality', which was entirely filmed within the Metaverse and was an official selection at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

The metaverse has inspired a sub-section of filmmakers and we are now seeing for the first time, long-form, narrative video content being shot entirely inside these virtual worlds.

These digital platforms are also now being considered as a way to exhibit film content with 24-hour virtual cinemas where audiences can become fully immersed.

Director Joe Hunting spoke to Yahoo Finance's The Crypto Mile and described a new sub-section of filmmakers creating content entirely inside of "social VR universes where everything is happening in real-time".

Read more: The Crypto Mile: A journey into the metaverse that promises 'eternal life'

There are unique benefits to filming entirely within the metaverse.

Huntings described the stunning locations that he can "teleport" to and film in, without leaving the confines of his home.

His lighting, camera and sound set-up costs as much as the VR headset that he uses to access these virtual environments.

Hunting said: "I don't have to travel to go and interview my subjects, I just go through a metaverse portal and I am there in front of them, no matter where they are in the world physically."

The documentary will have limited metaverse screenings that will be hosted within VR Chat for the VR communities that were associated with the film.

The new NFT funding and distribution alternatives open to filmmakers and the more immersive experience offered by the metaverse has caught the eye of independent producers and the major studios.

But, can the major studios adapt to a technological innovation that by its very essence is based upon decentralisation?

Watch: The Crypto Mile: Episode 4 – How NFT art and activism is responding to a world in crisis