Now United, the global pop group launched by American Idol creator Simon Fuller in 2016, will be the subject of an interactive live-action musical film hosted on the NFT platform OP3N, Billboard has exclusively learned.
The film will be exclusively available to NFT pass holders on the OP3N app, which was launched in 2021 by 88rising co-founder Jaeson Ma under the umbrella of his company EST Media Holdings. The project is being mounted in partnership with Culture Catalyst, a $100 million initiative to fund and support the development of arts, entertainment and culture projects on the Avalanche public blockchain developed by Ava Labs.
The musical, which will feature members of Now United and original songs, is designed to inspire schools to create their own version of performances featured in the film and compete to win a contest on the OP3N platform as voted on by community members.
“This project allows me to redefine how an audience can engage with content,” said Fuller in a statement. “Not only can it be enjoyed simply as entertainment, but you can actually participate, initially through learning and then by creating your own version of the musical with your friends or school. It is a celebration of the art of musical theater and the passion for self-expression and new technology that allows people to get involved in ways never before imagined.”
By using the OP3N app’s native video and music player, NFT pass holders on the platform can stream the film and access related content including rehearsals, choreography lessons and interviews with the cast. The app will also field submissions for the competition and allow members to vote for the winner.
The $100 million Culture Catalyst fund was announced in March as a partnership between OP3N and Avalanche. Other projects conceived under the pact include an “intergalactic children’s metaverse book” by Grimes slated for release later this year and the launch of Ava Max’s next music video helmed by director Joseph Kahn.
In their own statement, Ma and his OP3N Studios co-founder Eric Tu said Avalanche’s allegedly eco-friendly blockchain was a key driver of the partnership: “Web3 is powering a new paradigm in music and entertainment, but many artists have been reluctant to dive in for lack of an environmentally responsible solution that can consistently deliver a good user experience. In Avalanche, we’ve found the best possible answer and we couldn’t be more excited to bring these capabilities to bear to help Simon Fuller and Now United realize their vision for interactive entertainment.”
Ava Labs chief marketing office Devon Ferreira added, “In OP3N and Simon Fuller, we have found visionaries who not only share our concern for the environment, but who also recognize the magic in direct connections between fans and creators.”