Forest Road Creating NFT Platform For Independent Producers; Trendy Digital Tokens That Jolted Art World Turn To Film IP

EXCLUSIVE: Forest Road Company, the film financier and tax credit specialist, is creating an NFT platform to help independent producers as well as Hollywood studios monetize content.

The firm said Tuesday that alongside its investors it will spend an initial $20 million to launch the platform using the latest blockchain technology to help content owners turn new and existing IP into NFTs – or non-fungible tokens – while increasing liquidity in the market. The move comes a month after the artist known as Beeple whipped up an NFT media storm by selling an NFT work at a Christie’s auction for $69 million. Art, music, sports and entertainment have all been sizing up and testing out the new medium.

Forest Road financed or distributed over 550 films, has 1,500 producers and entertainment partners in its orbit and a built-in library of films to draw from. Besides investing, it will be the manufacturer, minter, and auctioneer of the NFTs as well as developing creative ideation and marketing. The firm said it is working to perfect the process “from A to Z” with studio films and that resources are being replicated and streamlined to indie producers.

“Indie filmmakers are historically overlooked, so providing them with these resources is key to our mission, hence ‘IndieNFTs’” — a specialized token — said Forest Road CEO Zachary Tarica.

The idea is to identify strong IP with a built-in, loyal base to launch the first NFTs, which are basically unique digital collectibles. There will be a limited number of NFTs per film ranging from iconic scenes to never-before-seen posters or digital images.

The NFTs will come with separate “physical attachments” to reward devoted fans. These could be access to never before seen content, footage and memorabilia, the chance to interact with talent and the creators, or exclusive invitations to film screenings and movie premieres.

“We are aiming to democratize access to these offerings, giving both the loyal movie fan and experienced NFT collector the ability to access these auctions and lotteries, all while helping drive additional revenue for our content partners and creators,” Tarica said. 

NFTs are a type of blockchain cryptographic token that represents something unique. Unlike other digital tokens like bitcoin (which is also referred to as a cryptocurrency) they are not mutually interchangeable — or fungible — and provide proof of authenticity and ownership.

“NFTs represent a new way to leverage IP and connect with fans,” said Saw creator and FRC board member Mark Burg. “Through the creation of this platform, there is a significant opportunity for filmmakers to source meaningful capital through this new revenue stream and deepen engagement with their audiences.”

NFTs have been created for the television show American Gods, the band Kings of Leon’s new album, and the National Basketball Assn. Earlier this month, A3 Artists Agency launched an NFT Task Force to liaise within the agency and its clients. Last week, Beacon Pictures, the company behind long-running ABC drama Castle and feature film Air Force One, said it’s developing the first scripted series about and financed by crypto called Hold on for Dear Life. Beacon will also mint non-fungible tokens for the show and may release an entire episode as an NFT.

“Technology will continue to drive the evolution of the entertainment industry,” said Tarica. “We are confident in our ability to replicate the success seen with music and art-based NFTs for film.”

Profit participation will vary but Tarica said FRC will only make money if the producers/IP holders do so there is full alignment. FRC is leveraging established connections in the film industry to identify and secure IP rights from creators who are looking to explore the opportunities and benefits of NFTs.  

He said the first IP drop and date will be announced soon.

FRC investors include, among others, director and producer Jon Turtletaub and Michael Hackman, CEO of Hackman Capital Partners, a real estate developer that’s a major owner of studios and sound stages. 

Forest Road’s board includes former Disney exec and Tiktok chief Kevin Mayer and former Disney CFO Tom Staggs. The firm has made news recently with two SPACS. Mayer and Staggs recently helped launch Forest Road Acquisition Corp. II, which began trading this month and is looking for a tech, media, telecommunications or consumer company to buy. The duo were among advisors of the firm’s first SPAC, which acquired digital fitness specialist Beachbody.

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