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Korean movie industry adopts NFTs

To ensure success, pop culture NFTs should come from titles with a solid fan base

Image of “Special Delivery” NFTs issued by local film distributor NEW (NEW)
Image of “Special Delivery” NFTs issued by local film distributor NEW (NEW)

The Korean movie industry is taking to non-fungible tokens to attract audiences.

Based on blockchain technology, NFTs are unique digital tokens of physical or digital assets that can be traded on the market. The value of the tokens changes depending on market demands.

In conjunction with the release of “The Matrix Resurrections” on Dec. 22, Lotte Cinema and Warner Bros. jointly gifted NFT merchandise to the first 30,000 people who bought tickets.

Moviegoers could get one of six different Matrix-themed NFTs by applying to receive them after purchasing the movie tickets.

“All of the 30,000 NFT products were given out to the moviegoers,” a Lotte Cinema operator Lotte Cultureworks representative told The Korea Herald. “NFTs are trendy these days, so there is no reason not to do an event like this again.”

The spokesperson added that audiences seem to have applied for the NFT merchandise out of curiosity.

“In the case of collectible tickets, customers know what they are receiving but it is a bit different for NFT merchandise. Most people want them because they are curious, at least for now.”

The collectible tickets that he referred to are premium printed movie tickets that are usually gifted to a limited number of moviegoers by Korean cinema giants.

Also in December, the film “Long Day” directed by Cho Sung-kyu, also started selling NFT merchandise on platform MyPics and Klip Dops of Ground X, a blockchain subsidiary of the nation’s tech giant Kakao.

The merchandise sold on the platform includes two signed posters and exclusive scenes of the movie.

“We anticipate NFTs to open up new possibilities in the film market, which has been stagnant due to the COVID-19,” director Cho said when releasing the special products.

Film distributor NEW took NFTs to the next level.

NEW announced that it has started selling 3,000 Generative Art NFTs, which were created with IP from the upcoming film “Special Delivery” on NFT platform Opensea.

Each NFT was worth 30 KLAY (cryptocurrency created by Kakao) during the presale period that started on Dec. 29 and 50 KLAY during the main sale period which started on Jan. 2. They all sold out quickly.

“It is different from simple NFT merchandise,” a NEW spokesperson said. “Others usually sell NFTs of existing posters. We created new artworks that have value in and of themselves. Each of the 3,000 artworks are distinct. They have different backgrounds, hair colors, clothing and so on.”

He added that due to this uniqueness some of the artworks are already being resold on NFT platforms at a much higher price.

The film distributor added that it is also a new way to increase the value of its IP.

“Every time the NFTs are traded, we get to earn a certain amount because we are the IP holder,” he explained. “So, we are also planning to apply this technology not just to upcoming films but also films that came out in the past.”

Culture critic Kim Hern-sik expressed some concerns about the future of NFTs in the local film industry.

“Currently, there are many who are willing to invest in NFTs. So the trend will likely to go on for a while,” Kim said. “However, like most of things that are trendy, they are overheated.”

Kim said that for NFTs to become a stable means for the film industry to generate income, it is important to have a strong fan base of the content that is being sold.

“For NFTs to be adopted to pop culture, there has to be a strong fan base,” Kim said. “Industries like K-pop have strong fan bases, and related NFTs are being sold to fans. But there are also markets where they are being sold to people solely for investment purposes.”

Kim thinks that movies should be attractive enough to have a fan base for their related NFT merchandise for them to have lasting worth.

“NFTs are not disposable goods, they should have staying power to be meaningful,” Kim said.

By Song Seung-hyun (