On the same day we learned that Fortnite is adding a LeBron James skin to its metaverse, the PR machine for Space Jam: A New Legacy cranked out a different batch of digital collectibles. However, instead of directing viewers to a gloriously aging 90s-era website, they had to use NFTs.
Launching July 16th on HBO Max, Space Jam: A New Legacy follows Michael Jordan’s 1996 movie by transporting LeBron James into a digital world full of cartoons and other Warner Bros. properties, so the marketing fit makes more sense than it might appear. The difference here is that instead of merely slipping toys into fast food kids’ meals or tossing out limited edition physical cards, there’s a hope that interest in the family-friendly flick will spur the collection of non-fungible tokens.
The Space Jam tie-in serves as a launch event for Niftys.com, a marketplace for the tokens that bills itself as “the ultimate destination for creators, collectors, and curators.” Topps, Mark Cuban, NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Labs, and Samsung Next are among its financial backers, and they all hope they own a piece of the next big collecting trend.
The website suffered some outages when it initially launched but is back up and running, promising a free NFT to anyone who registers (you can get one more for sharing a social network post about the event). Your one-of-a-kind digital item is one of 91,000 that have been minted on its blockchain for the event, giving this more of a breakfast cereal prize giveaway vibe than a hunt for a golden ticket.
As a child of the ‘80s and ‘90s, I’m a bit too jaded to believe these will be worth more than most of the trading cards, pogs, and beanie babies I remember, but at least they’ll only take up hard drive space instead of clogging landfills. While the environmental impact of blockchain technology has become controversial, Niftys claims its implementation uses Palm NFT Studio to reduce energy consumption by 99 percent compared to other methods.
At press time, there are still Space Jam NFTs available “while supplies last,” and the website lists 57,367 / 91,980 NFTs, although it’s unclear whether that is the number available or already claimed. While snagging an NFT so it can become part of your playlist, viewable as a spinning GIF of one of the movie’s characters, is surely enticing, most people will be in it for the scarcity. Free or purchased (at $2.99 each), the cards each feature one of nine characters and come in five tiers of rarity. There are ten “legendary edition” 3D cards available, and if you’re not lucky enough to own one of them, then at least you can still see the exact same image on Instagram.