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CAA chief metaverse officer Joanna Popper knew Anthony Hopkins’ first non-fungible token drop would be popular but didn’t anticipate it selling out in seven minutes.
Popper joined The Hollywood Reporter senior business editor Ashley Cullins on Wednesday in a keynote Q&A at THR’s annual Power Business Managers event. She discussed topics ranging from the evolution of the internet to capitalizing on opportunities in the metaverse to the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Popper explained that the metaverse is the “next wave of the internet.” First was the dotcom boom and then came the “social, mobile, cloud disruption where we started to use our phones for everything.” She said this wave will be “more interactive, more immersive, more 3D and more real time.” It’s not gaming, she elaborated, but a “gamified experience” that emphasizes connection.
“We imagine that there will be a similar level of disruption in how content is created and distributed,” she said.
Popper emphasized that anyone can capitalize on the disruption. She pointed to Hopkins, whose first NFT drop of a series of more than 1,000 art pieces inspired by his career in Hollywood that was created in partnership with production company Orange Comet, sold out on the OpenSea marketplace. In the art world, artists have historically only profited off of the initial sale. She said that contracts written for NFTs allow the creators to share in profits for each subsequent purchase. Hopkins has already made more money on the secondary market, she shared.
When asked about new ways of exploiting existing intellectual property, Popper said NFTs allow for limitless opportunities limited only by the owners’ creativity and imagination. Her team recently signed the owners of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Jenkins the Valet. The agency is now working with them for opportunities across film, books and podcasts.
“Hollywood is always on the search for interesting new IP that has a built-in community, whether it’s a book or platform or newspaper article that picked up a lot of buzz,” Popper said. “There’s a play here where you as the owner are able to then commercialize and do anything.”
The CAA executive also emphasized that the pandemic accelerated opportunities in the metaverse. Over the past two years, for example, she said that people have increasingly embraced concerts in virtual worlds like Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft. In addition to selling merchandise, she said that people can even monetize dance movements for their avatars.
The keynote ended a breakfast celebrating Hollywood’s Top Business Managers, who gathered in-person for the first time in three years. Richard Raffetto of City National Bank, the presenting sponsor of the event, kicked off a lineup of speakers that included THR executive vp and co-publisher Victoria Gold. (See photos of the event here.)
This year’s Business Manager Icon honoree was Richard Feldstein, whose clients across Hollywood include Adam Levine, Paul Rudd and Kate Hudson. Beanie Feldstein, Richard’s daughter, and Levine presented him with the award in prerecorded videos. (Watch the videos below.)
“Rich is like my second father, and I’m just really happy I didn’t go poor, and it’s all attributed to you because without you, I very well might be,” Levine said. “Thank you for constantly pestering me and nagging me to save my money.” The Maroon 5 frontman told Feldstein to celebrate and “crack open a diet Coke.”
Beanie Feldstein shared a running joke in the family. “When our dad calls us, he leaves us a message ‘Rich Feldstein, CPA, call me back.'” She said he now has to say “Rich Feldstein, Business Manager Icon.” The Booksmart actress also said that her father’s job has “always been a huge part of [his] identity” and that she appreciates how much “heart, brainpower and respect he puts” into his work.
Richard Feldstein recalled extensive changes in his line of work over a 50-year career, including the rise of the computer, the internet and cryptocurrency. He emphasized the significance of embracing them.
“The change is accelerating,” he said. “I see every five, 10 years there’s something really impactful on business management.”
THR‘s 12th annual breakfast was held at Spago Beverly Hills and livestreamed on Zoom.
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