Nov 18, 2021 - Economy

Crypto co-stars with Hollywood

Photo illustration of the Hollywood sign spelled partially with binary code

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Crypto has gone Hollywood, and vice versa, as the two industries are deepening their financial and strategic ties.

The big picture: For crypto, these partnerships are about building brand awareness. For entertainers and entertainment companies, it's about fear of missing out on the next big thing.

Driving the news: The Staples Center in Los Angeles said Wednesday that it will be renamed Arena, via a 20-year naming rights deal valued north of $700 million. Expect there to be in-stadium synergies, including around NFTs.

  • This comes after a slew of actors, athletes, musicians and influencers have invested in crypto companies, often becoming official or de facto spokespeople. Others are peddling NFTs.
  • Some want to get in early on an emerging technology that could revolutionize their industries, unlike the original social media revolution in which most of the profit stayed in Silicon Valley.
  • Or, as one crypto insider told Axios: "Ashton Kutcher made a ton of money by getting in early on Twitter, but he was kind of alone ... Lots of people in Hollywood want to make sure they don't make that mistake again."

Between the lines: Entertainment companies are using the promise of Web3 to lure developers, excite investors and squeeze more juice out of existing IP.

  • Fox plans to double down on its investments in blockchain technology by introducing more NFTs and digital collectibles for its shows and franchises in the coming months. "This is a revenue generating business," Scott Greenberg, the CEO of Fox's Blockchain Creative Labs division, recently told Axios.
  • Major Hollywood studios, like ViacomCBS, Lionsgate and Warner Bros also have introduced NFT drops around big shows and films.
  • Legendary debuted the first motion picture art release for "Godzilla vs. Kong" in March.
  • Even Disney last week said it is creating its own metaverse pegged to Disney+.
  • Hollywood talent agencies like WME and CAA have professionals focused on the NFT and broader crypto spaces.

One of the top connectors between crypto and Hollywood is venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Katie Haun, co-lead of its crypto fund, told Axios:

"The concept of web3 is quickly going mainstream and becoming part of the culture ... Anyone involved in creating content, particularly in the entertainment industry, recognizes NFTs and other web3 technologies are creating new forms of ownership and better ways to connect with fans. We’re still in the early stages of where this all could go, so most recognize that there is a lot to gain if you are open minded and curious.”

The bottom line: Each side is shining a spotlight on the other.

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