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Film development timelines can be excruciatingly long, especially when you throw two major strikes into the mix that effectively shut down Hollywood for a good chunk of 2023. What that occasionally creates is an ecosystem where films are released seemingly years after the fad they were trying to cash in on has passed. Lift, the current film dominating the Netflix charts, is a victim of this phenomenon thanks to its plot that heavily features the long-dead fad of NFTs.
Remember NFTs? Those weird little pieces of “art” that drew a small but incredibly vocal fanbase a few years ago enjoyed their time in the spotlight in 2020 and 2021, with the discourse around their usefulness and value dominating online spheres. It was during this environment that Lift was originally greenlit by Netflix and given a massive $100 million budget. The movie focuses on a group of thieves led by Kevin Hart who kidnaps an NFT artist in the hopes that the value of his work, which they’ve used the proceeds of a different heist to invest heavily in, will go up if the world thinks he is dead.
Fast-forward to 2024 when Lift is finally released and things are very different for NFTs. Despite what the film would have you believe, the NFT market collapsed by around 92% in early 2022, rendering many investments effectively worthless as a result. Even though the film was conceived and filmed during the height of the fad, by the time it landed on Netflix those days were long gone.
Lift’s viewership appears strong when compared to other shows on Netflix at the moment – it is currently enjoying its second week as the highest-viewed film on the platform – but it still feels weirdly out of place. Lift spends its 100+ minute runtime trying to convince us that the value of NFTs can go up when we all remember that they haven’t. It is too soon for anyone to feel nostalgia for the fad and too late for anyone to still care about it, like someone opened a time capsule and found a lost movie and decided to release it just to see what happens.