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NBCUniversal and Aptos Labs team up on Web3 game for Nicolas Cage’s ‘Renfield’

Nicolas Cage stands on a red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival
Nicolas Cage will star as Dracula in "Renfield," which is set to hit theaters April 14.
Matt Winkelmeyer—Getty Images

Even the centuries-old Dracula can learn about newfangled tech.

Aptos Labs, the developer behind the Aptos blockchain, announced on Friday that it has partnered with NBCUniversal on a Web3 game to publicize the upcoming film Renfield that features Nicolas Cage, everyone’s favorite best worst actor, as Dracula.

The game, which is online and accessible through either a QR code or URL, is already live. Gameplay involves players looking through a series of stylized photos based on scenes from the movie to identify which have hidden “bugs.” (Renfield, Dracula’s assistant and the focus of the movie, apparently eats insects during the film to give himself superpowers.)

After players successfully identify the bugs is when Aptos comes into play. Users are entered in a digital raffle with the chance to win three digital collectibles, which include movie posters and comic book scenes from the film. And those unlucky enough to fail to find the clandestine bugs still receive a collectible. These non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are minted on the Aptos blockchain and users can access them through Petra, a wallet built by Aptos.

“We know audiences just want to be connected. They want story, and fun, and no barriers to connecting with their fandom,” Greg Reed, vice president of technology partnerships at Universal Pictures, said in a statement. “Our job is to leverage high-performing, scalable networks.”

NBCUniversal’s partnership with Aptos Labs marks the media giant’s first major foray into Web3, according to Mo Shaikh, cofounder and CEO of Aptos Labs. And it’s yet another coup for the fledgling blockchain developer as it continues to notch high-profile partnerships for its protocol less than a year and a half after it went live.

“This partnership was really born out of a shared interest of exploring Web3 and blockchain technology to really enhance the fan experience,” Shaikh told Fortune.

Shaikh and cofounder Avery Ching publicly released the Aptos blockchain in October 2022. They had previously been at Meta (formerly Facebook) working on Diem (formerly Libra), the social media titan’s stablecoin project that was scuttled in January 2022 as it met significant resistance from lawmakers and regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

Following the collapse of Diem, Shaikh and Ching, who were specifically working on Diem’s stablecoin wallet, set off on their own and used tech from their days at Meta to create Aptos, a layer-1 blockchain secured by proof of stake.

Despite its questionable token drop, Aptos soon took off. Its token APT has a market capitalization of approximately $2.35 billion as of late Thursday afternoon. The blockchain boasts some of the highest transaction speeds among protocols, per crypto research firm Messari. And in addition to NBCUniversal, Aptos Labs has announced partnerships with Google Cloud as well as MoonPay, the fintech firm that builds crypto payments infrastructure.

“We,” Shaikh told Fortune, “don’t plan to just stop with just NBCUniversal and this film.”

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