Warner Bros. Discovery Is Turning The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring Into NFTs

Jumping onto the NFT bandwagon while it's hot, Warner Bros. Discovery has partnered with blockchain company Eluvio to launch (deep breath) "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (Extended Version) Web3 Movie Experience. There will be two limited-edition releases of Peter Jackson's fantasy trilogy opener as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), available to watch via the newly-launched Warner Bros. 'Movieverse' website.

NFTs are hard enough for a layperson to understand at the best of times, let alone when the NFT is a movie that came out over two decades ago and which is already available to stream on HBO Max, so here's a breakdown as simply as I can put it. An NFT is essentially a digital receipt that is stored in a blockchain (a shared public spreadsheet full of such receipts) as proof of ownership of a unique digital asset (like a customized picture of a cartoon ape). It should be noted that this "ownership" is confined to the NFT marketplace; the NFT owner typically doesn't have any rights to the NFT protected by intellectual property law.

Okay, so how do you turn that into a "living movie experience," as these editions of "The Fellowship of the Ring" are being advertised? Warner Bros. Discovery is minting 999 copies of the Epic Edition, priced at $100 each, and 10,000 copies of the Mystery Edition at $30 each. Per Variety:

Both allow buyers to watch the extended version of the film (which clocks in at 3 hours and 48 minutes) in 4K UHD, along with access to more than eight hours of special features; hundreds of images; and hidden AR collectibles. The Epic Edition includes navigation menus for three film locations — The Shire, Rivendell, Mines of Moria — along with location-specific key art. The Mystery Edition includes one of them, assigned at random. The Epic Edition also includes extra image galleries not in the Mystery Edition.

All my wraiths gone

So far this all sounds pretty familiar for avid collectors of special DVD and Blu-ray editions: fancy menus, special features, image galleries etc. So how does that translate into the language of individualized cartoon apes? According to Eluvio CEO and co-founder Michelle Munson, Warner Bros. "can personalize content for each NFT — to make it more of a gameified experience over time." Also, per Variety:

...The core digital assets of the experience along with derivative NFTs are all on the blockchain, not just the token (NFT) itself. That means smart contracts and content experiences can be dynamically updated over time.

Personally speaking, the only "gameified" experience of Middle-earth I need is "Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor." Two decades on, Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy has stood the test of time and I'm not sure that the thing it was missing all along was cryptocurrency. But if you are desperate to get in on the ground floor of the Warner Bros. Discovery Movieverse, the NFT versions of "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" Extended Edition go on sale from 9am PT/12pm ET on Friday 21 October 2022, via Web3.