“They Can’t be Funged!” What’s up with NFTs?

How did a novel idea meant to benefit artists and creators become a frenzy of people clamoring over each other for pictures of punk monkeys in a $17.6 billion industry?

Ah, the whimsical world of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). At the height of their popularity, people were trading digital pixels loosely resembling apes for a staggering US$2.8 billion a month. Fast forward to July 2023 and the NFT market has come down from the clouds, now hovering around a mere 3 per cent of its former glory.  

At its core NFTs were initially created to establish digital ownership and authenticity. Meant to act as digital certificates, built on blockchain technology, they were designed to certify the originality and ownership of digital assets, ranging from art and collectibles to in-game items. 

NFTs are less about the actual art, song, or image and more about being a digital proof of ownership. They’re like a virtual badge that says, “Hey, I’m the real owner of this unique digital thing!” So, while you can still enjoy the art or music, the NFT’s main job is to make sure nobody can fake or copy your ownership. It’s like having a digital key that unlocks the real deal in the virtual world.

Beyond verifying ownership, they empower artists to maintain greater control over their work. Artists can use NFTs to tokenize their creations, ensuring that they get a fair share of any future revenue generated from their art. 

This means that as their work gains value over time, they continue to benefit from it, providing financial security and recognition for their talent. Somehow this concept devolved into a frenzy of uninformed, FOMO-driven investors, yeeting their life savings on pictures of punk monkeys.

Matthew Hougan, Chief Investment Officer at Bitwise Asset Management, sees potential for NFTs to transcend their initial hype. He believes that the second generation of NFT technology will make its way into the real world within the next two to three years. Hougan remains optimistic about the broader NFT ecosystem, even as trading volumes have dwindled. 

That’s all well and good, but it turns out that today 95% of the 73,000 NFT collections we examined are essentially worthless. We went from buying and selling million-dollar pixel art made on MS Paint when the NFT market was worth a jaw-dropping US$17.6 billion to… well, nothing. It’s safe to say that not every pixel is a Picasso.

Then there’s the curious case of supply and demand. Less than a quarter of all NFTs are actually ever bought, leaving a whopping 79 per cent of collections collecting dust on a USB somewhere. It’s almost as if people finally realized that buying a cartoon cheeseburger won’t satisfy their hunger. Who knew?

But wait, there’s more! It turns out the listed NFT prices often differ significantly from their actual selling prices, leading to a speculative market that’s reminiscent of the wild, unpredictable days of the early internet. 

However, not all hope is lost. The future promises a shift from speculative buying to genuine utility and significance. Forget about million-dollar pixel art—NFTs are branching out into preserving cultural heritage, where they digitize and protect historical artifacts.

They’re also infiltrating the gaming industry by enabling true ownership of in-game assets. Moreover, NFTs offer token-gated access to exclusive content, fractional ownership opportunities in real estate and high-value assets, and secure digital identities, reshaping the way we engage with digital culture.

It’s like the NFT market is finally growing up and realizing it has more to offer than just digital trinkets.  

When it comes to NFT as an investment, Hougan suggested considering cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or companies actively engaged in the NFT space, such as Nike, which has already earned an impressive US$185 million in NFT revenue. 

Ultimately, NFTs are undergoing a much-needed transformation, akin to the dot-com bubble burst that ultimately paved the way for the digital revolution. So whether you’re an investor, creator, or simply an amused bystander, keep an eye on the NFTs that bring real value and purpose to this quirky digital universe. 

After all, it’s not just about buying and selling psychedelic monkey JPEGs—it’s about making the virtual world a bit more useful and slightly less bizarre. 


The jumpscare craze: Why we aren’t scared anymore

A look at a trend affecting the quality of modern horror releases

If you ‘ve seen any horror films released within the last decade, it’s likely you have experienced a jump scare. The term “jump scare” is used to describe the introduction of a sudden image on the screen, usually accompanied by a loud noise, with the purpose of scaring the audience. This gimmick can be observed in the majority of current cinema, particularly the horror genre, according to YouTube movie critic Jack Nugent.  Movies like Paranormal Activity are notorious for their overuse of this technique—to the point of annoying the viewer.  However, the film still managed to gross over $100 million on a $15 million budget, according to IMDB. Its success sparked a handful of other low-budget copycats like the 2011 Canadian horror film, Grave Encounters trying to capitalize on the jump scare technique. Despite saturating the market with this tactic, horror movies like The Conjuring and Sinister, that rely on cheap thrills are still performing rather well, according to The introduction of the jump scare generated a revival of the horror genre.

Scary movies tend to bring in a bigger audience—usually teenagers seeking thrills. According to Livescience, the typical horror viewer is a male between the ages of 15-45.  Films like The Purge Anarchy are destined to be experienced in a packed theater anyway, since part of the fun is hearing the audience react to the on-screen action, according to Forbes writer Scott Mendelson. The thrill of watching a scary movie is the experience itself—which surpasses the act of merely seeing a film, said Dr. Mark Griffiths in Psychology Today.  As horror movie watchers tend to be rather young, an R-rated horror movie will lose any potential spectators who are not old enough to buy a ticket. For instance, Forbes writer Scott Mendelson pointed out that Eli Roth’s cannibal thriller, The Green Inferno, was an abysmal box-office flop because the studio did not want to embark on an expensive marketing campaign for an R-rated horror movie, decreasing the chances of making a profit from the film.

Mohamad Hassan Bassal, a member of the Concordia Film Union, argued that jump scares are an easy and cheap way to scare the faintest of heart. It is an inconsequential technique which will not leave the viewer terrified after watching the film. It is a quick and inoffensive rush. The omnipresence of the jump scare does not allow for the quality of scare classic horror movies to be delivered. The reason why films like The Shining or The Exorcist are truly scary is their use of atmosphere and suspense. Despite these movies being beloved by critics, “there isn’t a lot of interest in the more suspense-driven horror style,” according to Bassal. Movie producers seem to be more focused on creating franchises like Paranormal Activity.

Aside from superhero movies—which are breaking box-office records one after the other—PG-13 horror films are the biggest money-makers right now, according to entertainment outlet The Wrap. Don’t be surprised if there is another onslaught of jump scares in this year’s horror releases.


Live-action Disney films: A worse idea than you can imagine

A study on the reasons Disney is remaking its beloved animated movies

If you’ve been following entertainment news recently, you might have heard Disney is planning on releasing live-action retellings of its classic animated movies. The first film in this genre was Alice in Wonderland, a 2010 remake which grossed over $1 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Although the Jungle Book exceeded the studio’s forecasted expectations, the recent onslaught of adaptations announced within the last week has left some people dumfounded.

There are now 12 live-action Disney films in the works, including some childhood favorites like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.  Even a Chip ‘n’ Dale adaptation was announced earlier this month, according to In my opinion, these remakes are a ridiculous idea with the sole purpose of increasing the production company’s bottom line. Why is Disney rushing out all of these remakes instead of developing new ideas?

For starters, according to Business Insider, Disney is a risk-averse company, and every time they take a chance with a challenging project, they fail miserably. For example, their attempt at entering the video game business—which, according to the same source, resulted in hundreds of jobs lost and the closing of six video game studios. According to Forbes, movies like Mars Needs Moms and John Carter lost the company upwards of $500 million. It is becoming incredibly difficult to attract audiences with new ideas in a world filled with derivative works, or works based on something that already exists, like a book. Moviegoers want to go see a film they know they are going to enjoy, not risk spending two hours grinding their teeth, Business Insider states.

It is also important to mention that Disney, like any other company, has to have a constant stream of output. The many animators hired by the company can’t remain idle—it would bankrupt the studio. Hence, any project, no matter how absurd, might start production if the executive team believes in its money-making power, as said in Creativity Inc., by Pixar president Edwin Catmull and Amy Wallace.

According to the same book, by adapting their previous works, Disney believes they will attract millennials who have been increasingly avoiding movie theaters. According to an article in The Atlantic, people between the ages of 15 and 30 grew up watching The Lion King on VHS and will go see its adaptation regardless of its quality. This is worrisome as the increase in ticket sales might cause Disney to believe that they no longer need to come up with new ideas—they can just continue to allow one remake after another.

This is not the first time Disney has opted to recycle stories rather than develop something new. The studio has been releasing sequels to their animated films since the late 90s and early 2000s, from Cinderella 3 to Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. At least the company had the decency to release those films straight to video instead of giving them worldwide theatrical releases.

According to Catherine Russell, chair of Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, filmmaking is constantly evolving. Due to its constant transformation, the movie industry should be dominated by adventurous producers, not money-hungry executives.


Blockbusters 2016: The worst in recent memory

Looking at the economic factor behind the silver screen and this year’s biggest flops

It is officially October, and with the arrival of the cold weather comes the reflection on this summer’s  of the blockbuster season. This year has proven that big-budget movies are not always guaranteed box-office successes. It has been a bitter pill to swallow, but rising ticket prices are driving most people away from the theaters, with movie attendance dropping by 10 per cent this past summer—according to Business Insider.

Over the last decade, Hollywood has been primarily misled by the potential success of sequels, reboots and remakes. Promising movies with bloated budgets that become huge financial disappointments have become the norm in recent years. The most recent of these failures was the Ben-Hur remake, which had an abysmal opening weekend. According to Forbes Magazine the film brought in a mere $11.4 million dollars, while the film had a production budget of $100 million dollars.   One of the reasons these movies fail to meet the production company executive’s profit expectations is they often go over budget. Business Insider reports that some movies are so poorly managed they can exceed estimated production costs by over $100 million. How can this be possible?

According to Anton Shevchenko, professor of operational management at Concordia, a movie is like any other project. It is a set of processes and tasks all undertaken in order to reach a goal. In the case of the movie industry, the goal is to reach an audience and reap enough profits to make the film’s production worthwhile. Studios typically hire a set of financial analysts to determine whether or not the studio should take on a project, and give a tentative budget for production.

If the crew chosen for the production process is unable to work together and drags out the production process, a once-promising movie can become a financial nightmare. For example, according to writer Ryan Lambie, in an article for, director Michael Cimino went 200 per cent over his budget during the realization of Heaven’s Gate (1980). Cimino built a gigantic set, just to tear it down for no apparent reason without the studio’s approval. The film became one of the most expensive box-office flops of all time.

The Telegraph reported that Michael Mann’s Blackhat, starring Chris Hemsworth, was the biggest flop of 2015. Bringing in only $4.4 million at the box office, the film had a $70 million dollar budget, and only made about a quarter on its budget back after its release.

Box-office failures are worrisome, as they can lead to severe financial pressure placed on studios. According to Business Insider, Warner Brothers fired 10 per cent of its workforce after Man of Steel failed to meet attendance expectations and that the worst part is that the studios don’t seem to realize what they are doing wrong— the majority of movies scheduled for release in summer 2017 have a budget of over a $100 million.

Graphic by Thom Bell

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