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Interview: OracleMovies CEO Senthil Nayagam on the need for an NFT movie marketplace

Screenshot of OracleMovies homepage

Speaking with MediaNama, Senthil Nayagam, CEO of OracleMovies, shared his views on what is currently wrong with India’s film ecosystem and how his blockchain-based platform hopes to fix it. You can watch the entire interview or read selected excerpts below.

Releasing movies are a challenge for first time producers and veterans

While producers all want a theatrical release not only movies get that. For many small, first-time producers releasing a movie is a challenge. During the pandemic, in Chennai alone, over 500 finished movies didn’t get released. Even if they manage to get a theatrical release, it will be a smaller screen with lesser seats. So in the current system for movie releases, everything is totally stacked against smaller producers, Nayagam said. Sometimes even when it comes to top guys, releasing movies is not in their control. Everybody is more like a farmer, producing content but not having control over the sales. We believe this can be solved with a marketplace, Nayagam said.

Creators must be able to benefit from their work for longer

According to copyright laws, the person who creates the content must be able to benefit from it for at least 60 years. But most revenues for movies come from just 30-60 days of the release. Because of this desperation, the creator will sell out the movie fully. I believe something is wrong here, Nayagam said. We should do something to help creators get recurring revenue. The guy who buys the rights makes the money perpetually, but actual creators are not, Nayagam remarked. Creators do not have to sell rights perpetually and can rather just license them for a certain period of time. Netflix and Amazon Prime have helped the Indian market open up to this concept, Nayagam said.

“In India, producers are not used to giving royalties. Actors will usually ask for upfront money. In the US, for example, a small boy who played a one-line role in Titanic still gets royalties after 25 years. There is no pension system for creators and artists, and this is the kind of recurring revenue they need.” — Senthil Nayagam

Blockchain offers radical transparency

In the current system, there is no transparency because there is no mandatory copyright system. So there are instances where someone releases movies on YouTube claiming they have copyright for it and this person makes money while the actual creator does not. Are the creators of movies from the 1980s and 1990s making any money off it when these movies are shared on YouTube or other social media platforms? A blockchain-based marketplace offers radical transparency in enabling this, Nayagam said.

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What is minted in the blockchain?

We will obviously not put the image or video on the blockchain because that will create lots of issues including enabling piracy because blockchains are public. We want to use blockchain to enable a content management system for delivering the content to platforms like Netflix in the desired resolution, format, language, and for the licensed duration, etc, and keeping track of different rights that various buyers hold, Nayagam said.

Role of DAOs in the movie industry

Similar to how start-ups provide stock options to hire talent, movies should be able to provide a stake in the outcome of the film rather than raise money through a financier who charges absurd rates. This is where Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) can play a role where ownership can be given based on tokens to different stakeholders including fans. Since movies have inherent value to them, these owners can earn returns for at least 60 years.

Getting Indian movies released globally

If we have a marketplace, it makes it easier to get Indian movies released abroad. If not in theatres, at least on OTT platforms. The whole globe is a market and India has to build a soft power, Nayagam said. If there is a good Tamil movie, we will help you dub it in more languages and even take them internationally. If not dubbing in 100 languages at least subtitles should be possible and our marketplace will show what’s available to OTT platforms across the world, Nayagam said.

Metaverse will need more content than just games

People are not going to keep playing games in the metaverse, they will need other content like movies. And we want OracleMovies to play a role in facilitating this, Nayagam said.

Airlines are major buyers who will be served well by a marketplace

Every airline nowadays shows movies but they cannot go find producers and go sign contracts with them. They also don’t have huge budgets and movies run for a month usually. For example, Air India, which flies across India, will need content in 15-18 languages along with international content. For them a marketplace that offers a bundle of movies offers convenience, Nayagam said.

80,000 movies made in India, but only 10,000 available

There are probably 80,000 movies made in India in the last 100 years, but only 10,000 movies are available and the remaining are missing. Every movie released must be available on some platform and we want to facilitate that through our marketplace, Nayagam said. If your parents want to watch movies from the 1960s they should be able to satisfy their desire.

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Korean content is popular in India, but still not available in local languages

The pandemic has revealed that there is demand for international content like Korean content, but this is still elitist in the sense that Korean content is not available in local languages. If we dub it in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, for example, a new generation of the audience will form. If people are exposed to better content, we will probably have fewer masala movies, Nayagam said. We want to create a marketplace to enable this, Nayagam indicated.

Making platform accessible for more buyers

If the bidding system for movies is more open and transparent, then we might have more buyers and the exploitation in this market reduces, he said.

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