11th Oct2018

Cryptocurrrencies – Hollywood’s next tech bandwagon?

by James Smith


Hollywood loves making films about new technology – A couple of years after a tech innovation or trend first appears, the film industry jumps on the bandwagon and makes a slew of movies about it.

Although the science fiction genre explored futuristic technologies as far back as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), the use of real-life modern tech as a major theme in film really began in the 1960’s. James Bond’s pager in From Russia with Love (1963) is surely the first time a mobile communications device appeared on the silver screen. By the 1980’s, computers were the big tech theme. Films like War Games (1983), Electric Dreams (1984) and Weird Science (1985) promised a future where computers would help us create the perfect mate and then burn us to a crisp.

In the 90’s the fledging internet and its geeky sibling e-mail were major plot devices in several films, including The Net (1995) and You’ve Got Mail (1998), while the 21st Century has focused on social networking and its associated problems. The aptly-named Social Network (2010), Disconnect (2012) and The Circle (2017) all deal with this new way to communicate. Meanwhile, Her (2013) explores the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

What’s interesting is that around the same time that the first big budget films are released about some new innovation, then that innovation leaves the tech niche and enters the mainstream consciousness. Hardly anybody used e-mail in their day-to-day lives until You’ve Got Mail, but soon afterwards, even your granny was using it.

So, what’s the next tech trend which the film industry will latch on to? We think it’s going to be Cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and other cryptocoins have infiltrated many mass-markets in the last few years, from video gaming to online casino payment methods. The rapid rise and subsequent fall in the value of BTC in 2017-2018 means that film audiences are now aware of the existence of cryptos, without them really understanding them yet.

This situation seems ripe for the film industry to come in and give cryptocurrencies the Hollywood treatment.

We think that Hollywood script writers will soon use cryptocurrencies as the McGuffin which drives their scripts along, in the same way that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fell in love using the plot device of email.

Already, Kurt Russell and Westworld actor Luke Hemsworth are filming an upcoming movie provisionally titled Crypto, which will focus on corrupt art dealers in New York. To be honest, the proposed plot line of Crypto sounds a bit formulaic, but such is the way of tech-driven movies. Spy thrillers in particular like to stay relevant by repackaging the same old storylines, refreshed with modern gadgets and tech. Going forward, we expect the big action franchise movies such as James Bond 25, Mission Impossible 7, and any future Jason Bourne movie to feature cryptocurrencies.

What would be truly awesome would be if a movie studio could commission a film about the real-life stories behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The question of the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto as well as the collapse of Mt Gox in 2013 would all make splendid movies. Of all the tech-driven films of previous decades, the stand-outs have been based on true stories. Social Network was so fascinating because we all wanted to know what Mark Zuckerberg was really like. Similarly, the various biopics of Steve Jobs are compelling because they seek to help us understand one of the most interesting men of the last 40 years.

Cryptocurrencies are morphing into a mainstream product, and the last push they need are some Hollywood blockbusters to explore this new technology. We just hope that alongside the inevitable formulaic thrillers, we will get to see some interesting movies which explore the fascinating real-life stories behind this new technology.

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