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The media and entertainment industries, and Hollywood in particular, have a monopoly-like control over the intellectual property or IP produced for public consumption. Writers and artists rarely maintain true ownership of the characters they create and have little say in the merchandise or content that is ultimately presented. Likewise, audiences and fans rarely have power over the stories told by the franchises they consume.

Let's take Marvel Comics as an example. Many of the company's most famous characters were originally created by comic book artists such as Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. However, the late Stan Lee eventually sued Marvel in 2002, claiming he wasn't getting his fair share of the profits. And he wasn't alone. Currently, Disney's Marvel and Steve Ditko's family estate are in a legal battle over who gets to retain full ownership of many Avengers-related characters.

However, thanks to blockchain, that trend may be changing. For a more in-depth look at the intellectual property side of the blockchain, Cointelegraph spoke with Daniel Eilemberg, president of content at EXILE, a media company that produces entertainment content in the United States and Latin America.

According to Eilemberg, "most of the IP behind today's biggest Hollywood franchises is not new" because Hollywood tends to be "fairly risk-averse" when it comes to creating new IP. Instead, it prefers to "breathe new life into and extend the lifeline" of established properties. Independent creators who incubate new content tend to start with books, comics, plays or podcasts. The NFT space now offers independent creators the opportunity to create art and build a fan base without the need for a large financial intermediary.

That's why EXILE has partnered with startup Curatible and artist Edgar Plans to create an original NFT project in the studio instead of acquiring a project called Lil' Heroes. Its characters exist as assets on the ethereum blockchain, and plans to develop the concept into an animated TV series. Eilemberg describes how the characters themselves and the potential for fan-created plot lines could become the basis for an NFT collection.

“When I first saw Edgar’s characters and the Cosmos they inhabited, we fell in love with them,” Ehrenberg said. “They were kids turning their fantasies into superheroes, and we knew it would really connect with the audience.”

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Eilemberg exclaims that the idea of a distributed and transparent creative process is very different from traditional film and television development. Lil' Heroes hopes to challenge this with new IP and capitalize on its growing and loyal fan base. The team aims to engage the young fan community with a new type of entertainment franchise, and the NFT drop is the first step in a multi-phase plan.

The conversation between EXILE, Plans and Curitable, a startup that recruits high-level artists for the NFT space, first took place a year ago. Plans hand-drew each property and then modeled it in 3D to create the NFT. The Lil' Heroes series dropped in mid-January, selling out within the first 24 hours and becoming the #1 seller on OpenSea. The unveiling of the series came a week later and, at the time of release, ranked 15th in the last 30 days of trading. Eilemberg attributes much of the project's success to date to the art itself.

“I think it’s a mix of established artists who have proven to be very engaging and approachable in their roles, a strong roadmap backed by a team with experience in the arts, entertainment and NFT space, and the right projects at the right time.”

Despite these early victories, the project still has a long way to go. According to the Lil' Heroes roadmap, token holders can expect upcoming Sotheby's and PHILLIPS auctions to include exclusive merchandise as well as NFT charity lots. Eilemberg told Cointelegraph that he is currently in talks with one of the largest meta-universe projects in the industry. He suggested that if all goes well, they hope to create "an immersive experience that blends art, music and NFT.

According to the Lil' Heroes website, part of the collaboration's mission is to "bridge the gap between traditional art and the world of NFT. Each character is intended to be "a vessel to raise awareness of major socio-political issues such as gender violence, racism and climate change.

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NFT essentially allows for the distribution of value to its holders, especially early fans, in which case they will gain access to the aforementioned events and the possibility of virtual and real-life events as well as fragmented physical art as proposed by Plans. Eventually, EXILE hopes to collaborate with Plans to produce an animated series that could be shown on streaming platforms. According to Eilemberg, the characters' stories will be created with input from the community.

Lil' Heroes is just one of the many small screen series planned for NFT. From 1inch Network's cryptocurrency-funded Take My Muffin and The Red Ape Family featuring Bored Ape to Mila Kunis' Stoner Cats series, these are all examples of projects that require user participation to access and influence.