Will “Matrix” fans take the NFT pill?
Warner Bros. is launching the sale of 100,000 nonfungible tokens (NFTs) of “Matrix”-inspired avatars later this month. The studio is pairing the hype over NFTs with the upcoming release of “The Matrix Resurrections,” aiming to gin up excitement for the long-awaited fourth movie in the popular sci-fi franchise — and also potentially landing a $5 million windfall over the sale of the digital-collectible NFTs.
It’s a natural tie-up that will put fans in the virtual world of “The Matrix,” through what the studio claims is the largest “PFP” (profile picture) NFT drop ever with the 100,000 unique avatars available for purchase. NFTs provide a way to authenticate the ownership of unique pieces of digital content, using distributed blockchain technology — they’re akin to real-world collectibles like baseball cards. Entertainment companies like Warner Bros., Fox, ViacomCBS and Lionsgate have joined the gold rush, seeing NFTs both as providing a new business model for monetizing intellectual property and boosting fan engagement with their properties.
Beginning Nov. 30, 2021, the 100,000 “Matrix” avatar NFTs will be available exclusively on the Nifty’s social NFT platform for $50 each. That’s timed to lead up to the Dec. 22 premiere of “The Matrix Resurrections” in theaters and on HBO Max.
Nifty’s said the drop is part of a multiyear partnership with Warner Bros. covering NFTs for the “Matrix” franchise. The companies previously worked together on a collection of limited-edition NFTs featuring characters from “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” starring NBA champion LeBron James alongside Looney Tunes characters.
The “Matrix” avatar NFT program will unfold in two stages. With the initial Nov. 30 launch, users will have the opportunity to buy one or more randomly selected, hyper-realistic “base” avatars resembling ordinary people trapped in the Matrix (pictured left). The avatars are composed of attributes with millions of possible variations, ranging from hairstyles to hair color, and from clothes to of accessories including handheld devices, jewelry and glasses. All of the “Matrix” NFTs are made using Epic Games’s MetaHuman Creator tool.
In the second phase, beginning Dec. 16, owners of the “base” avatars will be given a choice — take a “Blue Pill” and have their avatar remain locked in the Matrix, or take a “Red Pill” and transform their avatars into resistance fighters unplugged from the Matrix, having the same bodies but featuring entirely new clothing, hairstyles and accessories inspired by the characters from the “Matrix” films.
After the two-stage launch, the multiyear project will include “frequent challenges that will allow the ‘Matrix’ NFT holders to upgrade their avatars, earn new NFT rewards and participate in an active community,” the companies said in announcing the program.
Nifty’s and Warner Bros. Consumer Products said they plan to announce more information about the NFT avatars closer to the launch.
The NFT initiative for “‘The Matrix: Resurrections” is “a truly unique way to engage with the content that goes beyond what we’ll see in theaters,” Pam Lifford, president of WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences, said in a statement. “The avatars, the added twist of the Red and Blue Pills, and the ongoing opportunities to engage with a community and be part of the story will keep fans coming back for more.”
To address concerns over the environmental impact of the creation of NFTs, the “Matrix” Avatar NFTs (like the “Space Jam” digital collectibles) are being minted with the blockchain technology of Palm NFT Studio, which claims to provide a dramatically more efficient way to mint NFTs that reduces energy consumption by more than 99% compared with other approaches.
“The Matrix Resurrections” — coming 18 years after the most recent installment, “The Matrix Revolutions” — will be distributed by worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. It will be in theaters internationally beginning Dec. 16, 2021, and in the U.S. in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 22.
Lana Wachowski’s “The Matrix Resurrections” reunites original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in the iconic roles they made famous, Neo and Trinity.
The film also stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Candyman,” the “Aquaman” franchise) Jessica Henwick (“Iron Fist,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”), Jonathan Groff (“Hamilton,” “Mindhunter”), Neil Patrick Harris (“Gone Girl”), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (“Quantico,”), Christina Ricci (“Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story,” “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles”), Telma Hopkins (“Dead to Me”), Eréndira Ibarra (“Sense8,” “Ingobernable”), Toby Onwumere (“Empire”), Max Riemelt (“Sense8”), Brian J. Smith (“Sense8,” “Treadstone”), and Jada Pinkett Smith (“Angel Has Fallen,” “Gotham”).
Wachowski directed from a screenplay penned by Wachowski, David Mitchell and Aleksander Hemon, based on characters created by The Wachowskis. The film was produced by James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski and Grant Hill. The executive producers were Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski, Jesse Ehrman and Bruce Berman.