Robots are smart enough to write now, which means it’s only a matter of time before I’ll lose my job. But for now, I might soon be able to enjoy “Impossible Things,” the first feature-length movie written with artificial intelligence.
A company called Greenlight Essentials made an artificially intelligent robot that analyses audience response data and writes stories based on what it thinks people will like.
With some help by the humans who made the AI, it wrote “Impossible Things,” a horror movie about a family who moves to the middle of nowhere and start hearing creepy things around the house. The trailer gives a pretty good idea of the tone.
Now that they have a screenplay and a trailer, Greenlight Essentials wants to make a full-blown movie. They started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $22,843 more they need.
The greater promise of the AI behind “Impossible Things” is that it will save the movie industry.
Greenlight Essentials says the AI can look at screenplays and, based on the box office results of other movies, figure out if that screenplay will be profitable if its filmed as a movie.
According to the company, 87% of films in the box office fail to break even, a claim I couldn’t corroborate anywhere. It’s hard to tell where they got those numbers from, anyway, since studios tend to obscure the profits for individual films beyond just box office performance (Greenlight Essentials did not immediately respond to a request for comment).
Big studios already use data models to predict box office performance, of course.
They’re famously wary about spending tons of money on expensive products that don’t have a proven track record. That’s why they make so many sequels.
Furthermore, large-scale data-driven screenplays have been tried as well, and it famously torpedoed Relativity Film into bankruptcy. So there are reasons to be wary.
Plus, the trailer for “Impossible Things” doesn’t look like anything we haven’t seen before. If the AI is able to write new screenplays based on data from successful movies, then the movies it writes will look like ones that already exist.
The real use for the AI will be for independent filmmakers.
Indie filmmakers don’t have teams of data analysts at their disposal to figure out if a movie will make money, like big studios do. Having a computer program you can buy to help out with that changes the game. Plus, it will actually help you write your movie instead of just telling you what works and what doesn’t.
Most of the Kickstarter rewards for “Impossible Things” are the usual — DVDs, T-shirts, posters — but once you donate about $800, you’ll get six months of access to the AI software that made “Impossible Things.” Then you can have it make your own screenplay.
INSIDER reached out to Greenlight Essentials for comment. We’ll update this post if we hear back.
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