Business World

Sunday 18 August 2019

Hollywood hitmaker plans to fund blockbuster with cryptocurrency

Actor Michael Keaton in a scene from Birdman, produced by Christopher Woodrow
Actor Michael Keaton in a scene from Birdman, produced by Christopher Woodrow

Camila Russo

The next Hollywood film you see might be financed with cryptocurrencies.

Christopher Woodrow, who has helped produce or finance movies for the past decade, says the distributed-ledger technology known as blockchain is about to disrupt the film industry and he wants to be a part of it.

The producer of the Oscar-winning film Birdman, as well as Black Mass and Hacksaw Ridge, plans to launch his own blockchain-based token called MovieCoin in the first quarter of 2018.

Funds raised in the sale, or initial coin offering, will go toward financing a portfolio of movies. Investors will benefit as the tokens, which can be traded in the secondary market, would appreciate based on the success of the films, Woodrow said.

"We're trying to revolutionise the way films are financed," Woodrow said. "Hollywood is relationship driven and what we bring to the equation is the ability to gain access to the highest levels of film finance.

"We're in the process of putting together a slate of projects that will include A-list movie stars, top-tier directors, seasoned and established producers, and that will form the initial slate for MovieCoin."

The target is to sell $100m worth of tokens that will be compliant with US Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. Woodrow declined to name the movies being considered for the portfolio.

Just like ICOs have given retail investors access to cutting-edge technology projects that used to be reserved to venture capitalists, Woodrow says tokens can also democratise film financing.

Woodrow is the former managing director at Prospect Point Capital, which invested in venture capital deals in the entertainment industry. He also worked at Citigroup, Oppenheimer & Co, and CIBC World Markets in investment banking and portfolio management. This isn't the first attempt at bringing blockchain, which is used for verifying and recording transactions, to showbusiness. Flixxo wants to create a decentralised video-sharing network akin to YouTube funded through its token.

Pop star Bjork said she'll accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment for her most recent album, and along with any purchase, she'll give away AudioCoins, a cryptocurrency to be used on a decentralised music-streaming platform that rewards fans and artists.

Startups have raised over $3bn in ICOs, more than venture capital funding, issuing wildly volatile tokens that can just as easily increase their value many times over or crash in days. The SEC has warned investors of fraud. Bitcoin, the first and biggest cryptocurrency, has soared over 700pc this year and hit a record of almost $8,000 on Friday.


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