The loony-tunes world of digital collectibles known as NFTs is now getting actual Looney Tunes.
Warner Bros., in the biggest drop of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for a film to date, is releasing a collection of 91,000 limited-edition NFTs featuring characters from “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” including Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Porky Pig — and the pic’s star, LeBron James.
NFTs certify the ownership of a unique digital content asset, based on blockchain technology, though they are mainly for bragging rights, since digital content can be copied an infinite number of times. (The “non-fungible” part means NFTs are not interchangeable in the way currency is.) Like physical artwork or baseball cards, NFTs can be bought and sold. They’ve become a craze in 2021, mainly released in auctions — and garnering some eye-popping sale prices.
But for the “Space Jam” sequel, Warner Bros. is taking a different tack.
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Aiming to provide broad access to the digital collectibles, Warner Bros. will give away one limited-edition “Space Jam” NFT to each individual who registers on Nifty’s (niftys.com), the startup that is hosting the launch, while supplies last.
In addition, fans can earn a second free NFT by sharing a social media post about the “Space Jam” giveaway on Nifty’s. Collectors will be able to purchase additional NFTs for $2.99 apiece.
The “Space Jam: A New Legacy” NFT launch, of course, is timed to promote the film, set to debut July 16 in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max. “NFTs are a fun and exciting way for fans to further celebrate their love for our portfolio, and we felt that ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy,’ featuring our iconic Looney Tunes alongside LeBron James, was the perfect film to launch these limited-edition NFTs,” said Pam Lifford, Warner Bros.’s president of global brands and experiences.
While the “Space Jam” NFTs are not being auctioned, there’s still an element of exclusivity. The series will feature eight characters from the Looney Tunes “Tune Squad” plus LeBron James. The digital collectibles will include 2D and 3D-animated versions with five levels of rarity for each one. For the rarest category, “Legendary,” there will be only 10 copies of each. Both free and purchased “Space Jam” NFTs will be randomized and include all levels of rarity — a surprise-egg approach.
The “Space Jam” NFTs were developed with the creative capabilities and blockchain technology of Palm NFT Studio, which provides an energy-efficient way to mint NFTs that the company claims reduces power consumption by 99%.
Eventually, Nifty’s will launch the ability for users to buy and sell NFTs on its platform, and it expects to run auctions for certain collectibles. But the real point of the startup is to bring NFTs to mainstream audiences, said co-founder and CEO Jeff Marsilio.
“We will be the social platform for NFTs,” Marsilio said. “Part of what makes our platform special is it makes NFTs accessible to everybody — we’re emphasizing community, engagement, discoverability… things that go beyond buying and selling.”
He continued, “When you do an auction… by definition you’re limiting it to people who can participate. We don’t want to exclude people who are interested in NFTs.” Marsilio is the former senior VP of new media at the NBA, where he led the league’s digital licensing business and spearheaded the launch of NFT marketplace NBA Top Shot.
Why did Warner Bros. pick Nifty’s, a very young startup that doesn’t have an operational track record? Lifford said the appeal was the company’s mission of making NFTs accessible to mainstream audiences. “That goal, combined with our constant focus on creating lasting connections for our fans, is what makes this NFT program so exciting for us,” she said. “And while NFTs are growing in popularity, we’re excited to work with Nifty’s to bring these fan engagement opportunities to the next level.”
For the Warner Bros. “Space Jam” partnership, the companies settled on 91,000 NFTs to balance rarity with broad accessibility. “The idea here really is to drive engagement around the film for as many Space Jam fans as possible,” said Marsilio.
Meanwhile, they’re not the first NFTs associated with a feature film: This spring, Legendary Entertainment released an exclusive “Godzilla vs. Kong” NFT collection when the movie debuted in theaters and HBO Max. The “Space Jam” NFT launch is much bigger in scale, however.
For now, Nifty’s is focused on attracting a user base rather than generating revenue. When it enables transactions, the company plans to take a 3% platform fee on secondary sales.
The site also will let users create “playlists” of NFTs — whether they own them or not — in different categories (e.g., sports, artists, animation) and be able to share those on and off platform. “That creates new social discoverability for NFTs,” Marsilio said. At launch, more than 2 million NFTs will be accessible on the platform if those are based on the Palm NFT blockchain.
“No doubt people are collecting [NFTs] because they believe they will become more valuable,” Marsilio said. “But across the NFT ecosystem, you don’t see opportunities for large numbers of people to participate.”
Miami-based Nifty’s, formed in March 2021, has raised about $12.5 million in funding from investors including Mark Cuban, Samsung Next, Polychain Capital, ConsenSys’s Ethereal Ventures, Draper Dragon, Coinbase Ventures, Dapper Labs, Topps, Polaroid, Quiet Capital, Forerunner Ventures, A&T Capital and BBTV.