Well, this is unconventional.
An upcoming film currently in pre-production under the name Atari will be offering investors the chance to buy into the film via a cryptocurrency called the Bushnell Token after Atari founder and subject of the biopic Nolan Bushnell. According to Vision Tree, the production and financing company behind the film, the decision will help generate hype for the project by getting fans and gamers invested both emotionally and financially in the film's success. Vision Tree aims to raise over $40 million with the Bushnell Token's Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Those who purchase these digital coins will reap some percentage of the film's earnings when it releases. Investors will also have some say in the creation of the film itself with the ability to vote on trailers, casting decisions, and more. It's unclear exactly how much power investors will have over the creative process.
J.D Seraphine, the co-founder of Vision Tree, spoke about the benefits of using cryptocurrency to crowdfund a project. "Entertainment companies can engage directly with their audience and crowdsource financing at such a great scale now," he said. "We’ve seen success with our own films, namely Sirius, and we’re seeing many successful film projects continue momentum and traction through an ICO. We’re excited to be one of the first to utilize an ICO and a cryptocurrency to engage with audiences and finance a film in this way.”
Atari will focus on Nolan Bushnell's origins as a pinball machine repairman and tell the story of how he managed to create one of the most important gaming companies in history and what led him to walk away from it all a handful of years later. The film is being produced with the help of Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way production company.
Bushnell feels that the move to finance the film in this way represents a forward-looking approach that explores what could be possible with blockchain-based currencies in the future. "Blockchain represents a new environment that needs to be explored in all its dimensions: games, movies, books, art, etc. It is an innovative approach, fueling economic models and matching support with funding. The idea that we have a new way to fund things is fascinating and powerful.”
Nolan Bushnell was recently the subject of allegations that he had contributed to a sexist work culture at Atari. In a number of publications throughout the years both Bushnell and former employees told stories about the culture of Atari that included naming prototypes after attractive women in the office and inviting female employees into hot tubs during meetings. The allegations cost Bushnell an achievement award at GDC 2018, a move which Bushnell applauded in a statement released in January.
There's no word on when the Bushnell Token will be up for sale to the public, but keep an eye on the Atari film website for updates.