AI generated actor to star in $70 million movie

Director Stanley Kubrick spent decades working on a movie adaptation of a 1969 short story called “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Aldiss.

The story tells the tale of a future world where artificial humans cohabit our world and are used by humans for everything from companionship to substitute workers. The plot follows one of these artificial intelligence robots, a young boy called David, who has been programmed only to love.

Kubrick famously went through numerous writers and spend over 20 years trying to develop the movie to a point where he could put it into production. Ultimately, the director felt that the computer-generated imagery required to generate the images of David was not advanced enough to do so.

In 1995, Kubrick gave up on the project and handed the rights of “A.I.” to director Steven Spielberg, who finally shot the film with a human actor, Haley Joel Osment.

Whether or not computer-generated imagery has come far enough today to please the famously ultrafastidious Kubrick is a matter of debate, however, the recent news that an AI actor was about to take the leading roll in a $70 million movie represents a huge milestone in AI development.

The First AI Lead Actor

Bondit Capital Media, in a venture with Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media, recently announced that they would be financing a $70 million movie project that will see an artificial intelligence computer-generated actor take the lead role.

While few details regarding the project are yet known, the movie is based on a script by Eric Pham, and produced by Tarek Zohdy and Sam Khoze.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence

The plot is said to follow a computer scientist who is working with A.I. humans to try to perfect human DNA. After he discovers that the AI human “Erica” he is working with is in danger, he helps her to escape the lab in an effort to try to keep her alive.

The casting of an AI lead is particularly important given the COVID 19 outbreak and will undoubtedly be being paid close attention to by movie industry insiders. The success of the film will almost certainly trigger further investment in AI acting technologies which could act as a safeguard should future productions be shut down by pandemics or other unpredicted events.

Powering AI

The computer program behind Erica was the result of years of hard work and development by Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa. The program was not originally designed to be a computer-generated actor but rather to aid the pair in their study of robotics.

The scientists first created a set of algorithms that would allow them to teach Erica to act by providing her with a direct-acting experience akin to how human actors are trained in method acting. These principles were used by the movie’s production team to tech Erica to act.

In a recent interview, story co-author Sam Khoze stated, “In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role but Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings, and coaching character development and body language.”

The production has already filmed several scenes in Japan. The rest are due to be filmed next year after a replacement director is found for Tony Kaye, who was forced to leave the project after scheduling conflicts.

Tony Kaye
Tony Kaye

The Shape of Things to Come

This milestone in AI implementation should act as yet another wakeup call to the global movie industry.

It is only through the implementation of AI solutions that the movie industry will be able to increase the diversity of the movies that it makes while ensuring they remain profitable. Today’s movie theatres are a sad sight, overwhelmed by generic superhero films that have squeezed out diversity and originality.

There have been a number of AI milestones in recent years that will help breathe new life into the movies we see. The advent of AI-assisted moviemaking by pioneering companies like LargoAI and Cinelytic represents one of the most important steps in the development of AI movie solutions.

The services that these companies offer allow filmmakers of all production sizes access to powerful audience insights that allow them to better understand their movies and the people that will watch them.

Largo AI
largo AI

Insights such as gross earning predictions by region, most suitable actors for any given role, and script analysis will empower moviemakers with the information that can help them to improve their films.

While critics will be quick to suggest that AI is going to take jobs and put professionals out of work, the reality will be different.

As with Erica, AI will be used as a tool to help improve productions or to rescue them when unforeseen circumstances disrupt or shutdown productions.

The six months from March 2020 until September 2020 saw the movie industry grind to a halt, with very few movies being shot.

Were AI actors available, production companies could have quickly greenlighted AI projects that could have been made and released as a stop-gap. Then, once the crisis relented, production companies could then restart halted productions. As it was, movie production companies have lost hundreds of millions of dollars from delayed productions, losses that will ultimately prevent interesting smaller movies from getting made.

AI tools such as Erica or those offered by data-assisted moviemaking companies will help guard against such losses in the future. The time has come for the movie industry to stop fearing the power of AI and to instead embrace it.