Warner Bros. will use AI to decide which movies to green light

WB abandons human creativity in pursuit of Disney's infinite money.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

The studio behind Joker enlists help to bag more hits.

Niko Tavernise

Warner Bros. isn't leaving its movie making to chance (or the talents of its creatives). According to The Hollywood Reporter, it's signed up to use an artificial intelligence system to analyze its potential movies and choose which ones to put into development.

"The system can calculate in seconds what used to take days to assess by a human when it comes to general film package evaluation or a star's worth," said Tobias Queisser, founder of Cinelytic, the LA startup whose AI-driven project management system WB will be relying on.

Despite making a $1 billion hit with Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker last year, WB made a handful of misfires, including The Kitchen, Shaft and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

And it isn't the only one choosing AI to do its homework. Ingenious Media (Wind River), Productivity Media (The Little Hours) and STX (Playmobil and UglyDolls) have all signed deals with Cinelytic, which had been in beta testing for several years before officially launching in 2019.

But its AI program doesn't unassailably guarantee a hit movie. Instead it completes the menial tasks executives normally have to do, as well as calculating better parameters for packaging, marketing and distribution decisions, like when to release the movie.

It wants to be particularly useful at film festivals, where studios bid millions of dollars on movies with just hours of time to assess them -- New Line spent $15 million on Blinded by the Light at Sundance last year.

If this news triggers your robopocalypse sweats, don't worry. The humans in Hollywood still have (some) creative license.

"Artificial intelligence sounds scary. But right now, an AI cannot make any creative decisions," Queisser said. "What it is good at is crunching numbers and breaking down huge data sets and showing patterns that would not be visible to humans. But for creative decision-making, you still need experience and gut instinct."

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