Actors Danny Trejo, Mena Suvari, and Emilio Rivera have jumped aboard "RZR," the dystopian sci-fi series from Gala Film, a division of Web3 entertainment startup Gala Games.
The three veteran Hollywood actors are set for special guest star roles in the series, a gritty drama set in a dystopian version of Los Angeles in which underworld crime and novel technologies—including crypto and artificial intelligence—are deeply intertwined. The announcements had been teased out over social media this week.
Suvari is best known for her award-nominated turn in the 1999 film "American Beauty," while Trejo starred in the exploitation action franchise "Machete" as well as in "Spy Kids." Rivera currently stars in the FX series "Mayans M.C." and previously appeared on its sister series, "Sons of Anarchy."
That's right, action star, funny man, and taco magnate @officialDannyT will be making a special appearance in our science fiction drama, RZR! pic.twitter.com/sPekhlaPR0
— Gala Film (@GoGalaFilms) April 12, 2023
Rounding out the show’s cast are series regulars David Bianchi ("Queen of the South"), Richard Cabral ("Mayans M.C."), Mimi Davila ("Broken Angels"), Christopher Marquette ("Barry"). Bianchi, the series’ lead and creator, also co-wrote "RZR" and executive produces it via his Exertion3 Films company.
Filming on "RZR" has already wrapped, and the project is currently in post-production. The eight-episode series will premiere in July on the Gala Film platform, an offshoot of Web3 startup Gala Games. Bianchi said that Exertion3 is in discussions with multiple mainstream streaming video platforms regarding a wider release after that.
While the subject matter of "RZR" deals heavily with emergent technologies like the blockchain, and the show’s creators previously sold NFTs to build engagement and community around the project, Bianchi believes the show and its aims are no different than those of any film or television production.
“Even though this is a Web3-born project that is being distributed primarily via Web3 outlets, that doesn't change the mechanics of filmmaking, and it doesn't change the mechanics of performance,” Bianchi told Decrypt.
Viewers will not need to own an NFT to access and watch "RZR," unlike other recent Web3-powered film ventures. At the same time, NFTs and other Web3 elements connected to the show will be available for fans to purchase and engage with, should they so choose. Holders of the NFTs gain access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content and other benefits.
That’s part and parcel of Bianchi’s view on how to best onboard mass audiences to Web3: leading with the carrot of entertainment, not the stick of education.
“The onboarding of Web2 minds—of normies—into Web3 is going to ride off the back of those people becoming emotionally connected to a really cool show,” Bianchi said.
“That has to come first. And then let them hear through the grapevine that there are digital collectibles,” he continued. “As opposed to spoon-feeding people NFTs.”
Noelle Hubbell ("Don’t Worry Darling," NBC’s "Superstore") produces "RZR," episodes of which were directed by Emmy-winner Yuri Alves ("Grind"), Christopher Folkens ("Catalyst"), and Daniel J. Pico ("Marfa Girl"), who co-wrote the series with Bianchi.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to clarify the show's setting and Exertion3's future streaming plans.