What happens when the latest crypto craze, the “greatest movie never made”, and a misunderstanding of copyright law come together? A group of netizens pays €2.6 million for a book worth roughly €30,000, that’s what!
Earlier this month, a collective of pseudo-anonymous sci-fi fans and blockchain enthusiasts calling themselves “SpiceDAO” dropped a ridiculous amount of mostly crowd-sourced money on a copy of a very rare, and very influential book – a tome containing concept art, production ideas, a complete script, and full storyboard for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune. The book was one of about 20 published in 1975 that were passed around Hollywood to try and pique the interest of movie studios with the aim of getting the film green-lit. Unfortunately, its particular vision of a Dune movie was never produced, but the book itself was a sensation among the movie-producing classes. Its style and scope shaped sci-fi cinema for decades, heavily influencing films like Star Wars and Alien. When you consider that its contributors included H.R. Geiger, Salvador Dali and Pink Floyd, you can see why it caused such a stir!
When it was announced that a copy of the book had surfaced, and was going across the block at Christie’s auction house, SpiceDAO (“Spice” for the substance that drives the narrative in Dune, and DAO for “Decentralised Autonomous Organisation”) set about gaining followers and collecting money from them with the aim of purchasing the book. Their ultimate goals were to “collectively explore options to digitally preserve the manuscript, make it accessible to the public for the very first time, and develop creative projects inspired by the vision Jodorowsky set forth.” Reading further into their website, it looks like they intended to digitise the book, create NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) from the images, make the digitised book public, burn the physical copy (actually! – you can read about it here), then make adaptations like animated films and comics based on it.