At first glance, “No Postage Necessary” seems a bit of a throwback: The new indie comedy is shot on 35mm film, an artifact of cinema now used by only a handful of auteurs — think Quentin Tarantino — who can afford it.
But that aspect of the film belies its ultramodern status: It’s the first movie to be released using the cryptocurrency technology called blockchain. This will allow viewers to purchase the film using bitcoin — virtual tokens, not money — and view it via the app Vevue, which runs on the blockchain platform Qtum. The movie will also be released in a small handful of theaters around the country — Los Angeles and Chicago among them, but not New York — where viewers can pay actual money for actual tickets.
Fittingly, the film’s plot revolves around a hacker (George Blagden) whose criminal ways are reformed when he finds love, even as the FBI hopes to have him track down a cache of stolen bitcoin.
Is blockchain the future of moviegoing, or just a gimmick for this one? Either way, the film industry is desperately trying to stay afloat by finding new ways to hook audiences.
MoviePass, which allows its subscribers to see one film a day in any major movie theater for a monthly fee of $9.95, is starting to get some competition, though it’s not very strong. AMC recently started its own service, AMC Stubs A-List, which lets subscribers see three AMC movies per week for a monthly fee of $19.95. Then there’s Sinemia (whose second ‘i’ seems misguided), doling out two movies in any theater per month for $10.99 (among other plans ranging in price from $4.99 to $15.99 monthly), and Cinemark’s Movie Club, for which $8.99 gets subscribers one movie ticket per month at one of its franchise theaters, with additional tickets also priced at $8.99.
On the higher end of the spectrum, virtual-reality technology now allows users to watch movies in their own homes on their headsets — and sometimes, in the case of Oculus Rooms, while hanging out with friends in a virtual space, via the social app in its VR headset. Rift, Vive, Daydream and Gear VR also offer movie-streaming capabilities.
Collectively, it’s a brave new world of moviegoing out there (or in your headset, for that matter) – so start amassing your bitcoin now.