Bablos: ICO for shooting Pelevin’s novel

A movie based on Victor Pelevin’s novel Empire V may become the first blockbuster financed with a cryptocurrency. It is expected an ICO will help raising money to finance the final stage of shooting and postproduction. The target (hard cup) is €3.36 mio. The minimum threshold of ETH 2K (about RUR 32 mio) was reached right after the start. Raising funds is not the only goal of the movie crew though. The main aim is to attract to this rather non-public industry alternative investors, that is, the audience. In the long run, Bablos blockchain platform must become source of funding for alternative movies. According to the platform organizers, blockchain is a new way of looking at money which helps humankind moving away from the pressure of states and politics and can relieve Russian cinema of dependence on the government allocations. Given its headline goals, Empire V is in fact becoming a cryptocurrencies commercial.

Film director Victor Ginzburg presented his previous movie based on Victor Pelevin’s novel Generation P. Ekaterina Chesnokova | RIAN

Bablos platform has been developed for about a year. Initially, the idea was to launch a campaign to support one specific movie. Ultimately, it was decided to build a platform. As seen by the platform founders, such a crowdfunding helps understand the interest of the audience to various projects, and thus, along with accumulating investments, forecast audience demand. Empire V’s founders were much guided by the popularity of Victor Pelevin’s postmodernist novels and the success of the first screening of his Generation P.

Six years ago film director Victor Ginzburg proved that screening of Pelevin’s novels is possible. Now, he decided he can succeed again. According to Ivan Zasursky (journalist, producer and media researcher), Pelevin has valued the movie very high and was pleased to allow screening of some other novels such as S.N.U.F.F., iPhuck 10 and Batman Apollo.

The story line of Empire V in few words is simple: a young man becomes a vampire and uncovers a plot by a vampire elite which rules the humankind and draws out its joy, dreams and cabbage. The movie is starring Pavel Tabakov, rapper Oxxxymiron, Vera Alentova, Victor Verzhbitsky and Ghera, a new star selected for the movie at an Instacasting. The overall movie budget is RUR 460 mio ($6.5 mio). According to producer Maria Kapralova, the government has extended a non-refundable grant of RUR 60 mio and a RUR 60 mio loan which Red Quadrum studio is to repay.

“For me, the adventure of looking for investments for Generation P, a genre movie, was thrilling. We were screening a bestseller, yet no one believed it could be screened, since that is a sophisticated philosophical story and an intertwist of narratives. So for the first time I started to look for unorthodox ways of funding. At that moment the project was saved by some 15 major brands which aggregated about one half of the movie budget yet made no attempt to influence our creative freedom. A year and a half ago we started thinking of screening another novel”, the movie director says.

The previously employed crowdfunding was no longer sufficient, since the costs of the campaign and returns were incomparable. Besides, it would be hard to raise investments of the required scope.

“At some point it occurred to us that Bablos Pelevin had described is a cryptocurrency. So we turned to cryptoinvestments, regardless of the skepticism”, Victor Ginzburg says.

To overcome skepticism, the ICO organizers note the movie is going for an ICO when it is 70% ready. Shooting is expected to be over in November. In late 2019 the movie may be released.

“Most of the projects which go for an ICO are mere ideas. They are all oversimplified and ambitious, and rarely contain any solid business plans. To make it different, we put into our White Paper the most conservative expectations to show that even in this case our forecasts can work out”, Ivan Zasursky claims.

The conservative expectations mean producing a most high-grossing Russian movies which can bring no less than RUR 1 bln ($14.5 mio). The movie producers make a reservation though that the main box office is not in Russia (where some RUR 300 mio may be expected) but elsewhere. The Empire V team hopes to generate close to RUR 300 mio in China, RUR 70 mio in Eastern Europe, and another RUR 70 in India. According to Victor Ginzburg, the new movie’s visual language can easily cross all borders, while a global vampire plot springing from Moscow should, given the current political environment, instigate an interest towards the movie. Up to 40% of the net profit from the sale of the rights to the movie (distribution, digital rights, licensed sales) will be distributed among token holders.

For a public offering, 1,700K Bablos tokens were issued. Further 300K cryptotokens will make up a reserve fund, be used for bounty programs and stars attraction. The ICO organizers expect to raise €3,360K. Three months after the ICO is over, the tokens will be traded at an exchange.

“Bablos will be traded at exchanges, yet the main purpose of our token is not instigating speculations but ensuring movie production. Tokens can be used for participating in future projects of the platform, for watching movies online, for getting access to the online first show”, Andrei Moguin, ICO producer, says.

“Apart from production, there are social goals as well, which is simplifying an entry of any individual as a movie investor. We certainly look forward to majors, but we also expect to see Pelevin’s fans among our investors. I mean those who are ready to pay for tickets right now. It’s no coincidence a token price is roughly comparable to RUR 400 which is an entry ticket price”, Maria Kapralova notes.

By Anna Oreshkina

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