Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction NFTs Need A Syringe Full Of Adrenaline
For over a week, I’ve been trying to find Guy Zyskind, the Israeli founder and CEO of SCRT Labs. It’s the developer of the Secret Network, the NFT exchange behind the much-discussed pulp Fiction scenario tokens that Quentin Tarantino expected to sell for millions of dollars. I have many questions for Zyskind now that the whole company seems to be as dead as Vincent Vega in the black suit.
As I wrote in November, Miramax has hired a team of six litigants to sue Tarantino over the NFT plan, claiming the studio, not the film’s writer-director, has “broad rights” to offer tokens. story-based collectibles. In response, Tarantino’s team argued that his original deal maintained his right to “publish” his script, which now allows him to “publish” NFTs on the blockchain. If this subject freezes your eyes, it shouldn’t be; just about every studio in Hollywood is trying to figure out their NFT strategy, and ownership of the rights is key. A lot of money is at stake.
Either way, Secret Network made the first of seven planned Tarantino NFT sales in January, winning what it trumpeted as a $1.1 million prize from an anonymous buyer for the famous Samuel L. Jackson–John Travolta “Cheese Royale”. Zyskind released a triumphant press release saying the sale “represents a monumental moment for our community, Quentin and the Secret Network.” And then… everything was abruptly abandoned.
Yes, four days after his monumental moment, Secret Labs postponed future Tarantino sales indefinitely, citing “extreme market volatility,” which felt like a total BS, even though the crypto market at been on a roller coaster for the past few weeks. Then on Friday, the @TarantinoNFTs Twitter account announced that it would be “changing direction” to a new NFT plan, and that “this channel’s business will now be 100% dedicated to this new venture.” So, do pulp Fiction plan definitely dead? Or is he revived with a shot of adrenaline like Marcellus Wallace’s wife?
Tarantino’s rep tells me the plan is to continue NFT sales when the time is right, but neither Zyskind nor his company responded to my request for an explanation of when. And it all sounds fishy. Demand may have been low, despite all that media attention. Or maybe a technical problem has occurred. Some of the art used to promote this first NFT turned out to be copyrighted by an illustrator, which forced Secret Network to take it down, but I doubt that derailed the whole business. So what’s going on?
Miramax CEO invoice block, while stopping short of declaring victory, certainly believes his legal request created a cloud of uncertainty that negatively impacted the auction. After all, who wants an NFT whose ownership is disputed by a movie studio backed by Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS) and a Qatari media company? Secret Network isn’t a night theft operation, but it’s also not one of the major NFT exchanges, and that’s probably saying something that neither OpenSea nor Rarible, both of which require sellers to meet certain terms and conditions, ended up hosting the pulp Fiction to sell.
Then there’s the veracity of that $1.1 million award for “Royale with Cheese.” The winning bidder, “AnonsNFT”, defines itself as the “1st @SecretNetwork PFP Collection”, leading some members of this community to suggest that it is either related to Secret Network or a front for Zyskind to generate a stunning initial price to establish a lucrative market. This is apparently a common pattern in the NFT world. I don’t know if that’s the case, but Miramax, at least, thinks it could have happened.
A source close to Tarantino said the QT team believes the plan is to relaunch NFTs as a lower priced effort. I’m certainly no NFT expert, but apparently there’s a raging debate in this world about whether these tokens should be the province of the very rich, who can afford to shell out $1 million each for trophies like their own Quentin Tarantino scene, or more populist collectibles sold in groups of, say, 5,000 or 10,000 copies, like an artist’s limited-edition prints. the pulp Fiction NFTs can pivot to this latter path, whether out of purpose or necessity, which may explain why the @TarantinoNFTs account tweeted on Friday: “…we have decided to change direction so that every member of the community has the opportunity to be part of this journey.
Given the media brouhaha and the still pending Miramax litigation, it would be amusing if the pulp Fiction the auction ends up looking like just a virtual fan convention, with Zyskind allowing thousands of QT followers to line up for what is essentially their own digital autograph. The account said the new plan will be announced tomorrow.