Since 2019, Wolf Entertainment, the TV and media empire behind such franchises as Law & Order and its trio of Chicago series (Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago P.D.) has been looking for ways to expand into new media and connect with fans on platforms beyond their TV screens. The company has already ventured into podcasts with the launch of Hunted, an original audio series featuring Parker Posey as a U.S. marshal who hunts down the country’s most dangerous fugitives. Another original podcast series is launching this week.
So it seemed only natural that when the NFT craze kicked into high gear this year, the company would explore ways to, as Elliot Wolf, EVP of digital at Wolf Entertainment (and the son of the company’s namesake, mega producer Dick Wolf) puts it, “build out original IP and find a way to bring storytelling to the blockchain.”
The result is the Wolf Society, a “membership-based society for online detectives,” Wolf says, which will launch at the end of November. The site will be accessible on Curio, an NFT marketplace that’s built on the Ethereum blockchain.
“The concept is similar to The Bored Ape Yacht Club,” he says, “where if you go to the [site] without holding a Bored Ape [NFT], you will be able to enter the website and see the public-facing side of it. But if you are a member, you will be able to access a website with much more depth and gain access beyond the gated wall of the clubhouse, if you will.”
In the case of Wolf Society, members will have the ability to purchase NFTs that contain clues to a cold case they can work to solve. Each limited-edition NFT will reveal written, audio, and/or video clues about the case. Wolf Society members can then trade, buy, and sell the NFTs with other members to obtain more clues. (Wolf says that the NFT’s would be priced in a way that is “fan accessible.”)
“You can work with other members, or you can work solo” to solve the case, he goes on. “But it’s not like you get the NFT,” and you solve the case. “You will have to use your detective skills to discern what the relevant information is” on each NFT, and then move on to the next.
Wolf Entertainment’s NFT strategy goes beyond the standard NFT drop, where companies create collectible art or other items tied to a film or TV property and put them on the blockchain for fans to buy, trade, and sell. (Though there have been some exceptions, such as “Aku“—the story of a young, Black boy who wants to be an astronaut—that is unfolding via NFTs at the same time that it’s being developed for film and TV by Anonymous Content.)
This was exactly the point. “We were seeing what had been done to date, and there were a lot of entertainment companies and players getting into NFTs, but they were going it in a pretty traditional way. They were looking at NFTs as memorabilia or one-off NFT items. For us, that was a little less interesting.”
Rather, the idea was to apply the same storytelling approach to NFTs that the company invests in its TV shows and podcasts. As with the Hunted podcast, the cold-case narrative that will unfold through NFTs is not based on an existing Wolf Entertainment franchise, but is entirely original. A group of writers and game designers were assembled to write the cases, mirroring the TV writers room process.
Ben Arnon, cofounder and CRO of Curio, believes the NFT storyline is just the beginning and that the blockchain IP could make its way up the entertainment food chain and into other mediums. “We’ve seen over the last decade the evolution of multistory, multi-platform storytelling, where a lot of film and TV material is based on comic IP, podcast IP,” he says. “From the Curio perspective, we definitely think the NFT space lends itself to a new vehicle of incubation of IP. I think we’re already seeing certain projects in the market that are signing with the major agencies and moving into other platforms. We’re super excited about that aspect of NFTs growing beyond simply digital collectibles.”
Wolf, though, was more coy about whether the NFT project will wind up as a Wolf Entertainment TV show, saying only, “I’m not writing anything off.”