At a time when the creative community is aligned on the picket lines in their disenchantment with the entertainment industry, there’s an innovative new outfit blazing a new path to creating and distributing content.
Led by veterans of Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks, Toonstar bills itself as a “Web3 story studio” capable of developing, producing and financing animated projects powered by the blockchain. CEO and co-founder John Attanansio sees an opening for attracting talent looking for new ways to reach an audience.
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“There are trends in Hollywood right now that, honestly, I think make it easier,” he said on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “You can see especially what’s happening now: There are a lot of productions that are getting canceled or halted, things will sit in development for extended periods of time. It’s just getting harder and harder to get something made in the traditional system.”
Toonstar will launch its third series, “Space Junk,” on May 19, but the show can’t be seen on a TV network or a streaming service. Created by Dominic Russo, co-creator of the Comedy Central series “Workaholics,” “Space Junk” is more than just episodic TV; it’s the hub for a community-centric model that allows fans who buy NFTs to take advantage of all sorts of extras that enable their participation that typical programming doesn’t provide.
“This is really like becoming this VIP fan base that has all sorts of really great perks,” said Toonstar co-founder and COO Luisa Huang. “It’s like, if you love the show, well, come and be kind of like this next layer for fan. You own this token, and with this token, you really get to go deeper into the creation process.”
Toonstar is part of a pioneering movement working the margins of the media business with cutting-edge savvy. “Space Junk” even features a character voiced by artificial-intelligence technology (Attanasio also recently penned a guest column on how Hollywood should adapt to AI).
“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
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