What If ICOs could Empower Culture & the Arts

I’m a big fan of blockchain enabling projects in sustainability, basic income services and altruistic causes. I believe in that domain falls ICOs that are crowd-funding experiments in the Arts and Culture.

Entertainment, advertising and even gambling need new models. The way we invest is certainty changing. The decentralization of fundraising has myriad possibilities for immersive products and experiences.

In an era when ICOs have fallen into some disrepute, in some parts of the world they are still stimulating fresh perspectives. I’m far from the kind of author that’s an ICO promoter. In fact, I try to stick clear of such projects.

However in the spirit of Russia’s unique contribution to the crypto community and the wacky world of digital assets one project has caught my eye and it’s called Bablos. I don’t love vampires but I do feel blockchain stimulating the Arts and entertainment industry is really interesting.

The one Russian ICO worth at least looking at. Or watching (if you like vampires).

A rare thing among the countless Russian ICOs, a film studio “Kvadrat” started an ICO to fund a movie production.

Here is why I believe it’s worth taking a look at and maybe participating in — and why the movie could be worth watching when ready.

Bablos’ ICO feels different somehow, in that it’s not just another wallet or protocol, but an actual movie production experiment. All over the world we are seeing digital assets stimulate new kinds of interactions, incentives and not just transactions.

What if the ICO (initial coin offer) was a tool for social change in how people participate in events, movements, experiences and their local communities differently?

Can the Movie Industry Give Back to its Audience?

What is interesting about it:

  1. This ICO will only partly (40%) finance a movie production — 60% of the budget is already secured.
  2. The movie is about vampires in the Post/Soviet Russia.
  3. 40% of the box office collection worldwide will be distributed to token holders worldwide.

In Russia it’s not uncommon to see blockchain or crypto courses in universities and it’s even impacting how popular culture and the movie production cycle is working.

As a futurist and on a sociological level, what if cryptoeconomics continues to impact how the Arts are stimulated?

Bablos Plot Synopsis

To understand the ICO called Bablos, it helps to know a bit about the plot. It’s basically a vampire movie with the story set in contemporary Russia. The plot is quite typical of the genre: a 19-something freeloader becomes a member of an upper vampire caste and discovers how they rule the world with glamour, discourse and Bablos. (The word “Bablos” itself means something like “Dinero” or “Loot”, i.e. money. Sofia Paskal gives more details on the term in her blog post on Steemit).

Bablos’ founders promise to use token sale proceeds only on the movie production itself, financing other costs from the funds already secured.

Will Millennials Investing in ICOs Change How Films are Funded?

The Token sale began in September and it can actually be a good bargain: they are collecting EUR 3.36 M which will cover 40% of the movie budget — and will distribute 40% of the whole box office collection globally to token holders. I’m not giving investment advice but here’s the equation in my head on this one:

  • 85% of the tokens will go on public sale, and the other 15% will be used for the project team, movie actors, and the community bounty program.
  • If the movie grosses out big, this might become a really good investment. Here is some simple math: to get your investment simply returned, the movie must gross (net of intermediaries’ commission) about $10 M worldwide.

The film is based on an über-popular novel, “Empire V”, by the infamous Russian novelist V. Pelevin. Now as of late October, 2018, the film shooting is in its final stages. Only post-production, CG and releasing activities are left.

The director, Victor Ginzburg, is no local by any means. His background includes working with some Hollywood stars and he already has done one Pelevin movie, the “Generation P”.

Giving Back to Audiences and Fans

It was not released widely in the US but became the highest grossing movie in Russia for Q2-Q3 2011. The film received great acclaim in NY and Toronto film festivals and aired at 50 more festivals including Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Warsaw and Mumbai.

In his interview, Mr. Ginzburg laments about how to let even poor people profit from the movie industry by financing movies and receiving proceedings. He even names his counterparts in the work, who are in no way newcomers in the movie business:

“The work will be carried out by Los Angeles studio LOGAN, headed by Alexei Tylevich, which has created concepts for Apple, Nike, Microsoft, Sony, Lexus and Madonna, and is currently developing pre-visuals for MARVEL. Poland based 3D-animation studio Platige Image, one of the oldest brands in the industry, will do most of the co-production. A Dutch crew has been invited to provide fractal graphics — a new movie technology, used in Doctor Strange”.

As far as I understand, the movie will be released full scale to international audiences, including China, Europe, US and Latin America. So this is fair enough to compare it to some examples in the same class. And what is the same class?

Interestingly enough, the movie falls into two very hype categories of the recent decade: vampire movies and conspiracy theory movies. The story about a secret vampire society can be attractive enough to the viewers so that they make it into a new potential blockbuster. The vampire genre isn’t one to be underestimated either. See the charts below:

Illustration #1. Top Grossing Vampire movies of all time

Illustration #2. Top Grossing Conspiracy movies of all time

I’m definitely far from being an entertainment buff, but Empire V has solid credentials.

Empire V can gross as much as € 20–30 M, based on a simple average of those comparable movies. And 40% of this is € 8–12 M, which stipulates that the token holders might get as much as a 150 % return on their investments.

With 700,000 euros is already raised and what critics are saying is an engaging story — i.e. 20% of the not-so-big hard cap is closed.

Is this the start of Millennials investing differently in Arts & Culture? For those who shop ICOs for good deals, it’s worth a closer look. I never knew vampires and crypto had this kind of a special relationship, but nothing surprises me any more.

The movie production industry is looking to opt-in audiences in new ways, and ICOs truly are a valid alternative to crowd-funding, if the last few years are telling us anything. So is it worth biting into?

  • Read the Whitepaper here.
  • Read Press articles here.
  • For further background details on this project read here.

If this is a success, Russia will have taught us something about the future of the Arts and the Entertainment industry. ICOs have raised $21 Billion already in 2018 even as a shift to private sales, VC and crypto funds has been occurring.