Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Warner Bros. is going to let an AI help decide which movies should get made

Illustration for article titled Warner Bros. is going to let an AI help decide which movies should get made
Photo: Phillip Faraone (Getty Images for WIRED)

Trusting robots is a slippery slope, or at least it is in sci-fi movies about not trusting robots, but it seems like Warner Bros. failed to pay attention to that important lesson in those Matrix movies it released. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio has handed some control of the decision-making process for which potential projects get to move forward over to an AI-based “project management system” created by a company called Cinelytic. The basic utility of the system sounds fairly mundane, with THR explaining that Warner Bros. will use its “comprehensive data and predictive analytics” to “assess the value of a star in any territory and how much a film is expected to make in theaters and on other ancillary streams.”

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In other words, it’s like a social media algorithm that predicts what Tweets you’ll like or who your friends will be, but it’s deciding which movies should get made—or, to be more accurate, it’s just compiling data that could help someone decide which movies should get made. Its influence probably won’t reach the highest level yet, as THR says it will simply “reduce the amount of time executives spend on low-value, repetitive tasks” by making it easier to get the kind of marketing and distribution figures they need when making a decision about a movie, but come on. There’s barely even one full step between “this robot will make my life easier” and “this robot is now using me as a living battery” (and don’t try to argue that an AI and a robot aren’t the same thing, because only a robot would care about labels like that).

Seriously, how many executives in the world would gladly hand over a little control of the decision-making process to a machine if it meant they’d have more time to golf and count their money? We’re not saying that it’s just a matter of time before Warner Bros. is literally run by an AI, but don’t be surprised if the studio starts releasing a lot more movies about how fragile humans are and how much better things would be with robots in charge. Maybe a remake of that movie Transcendence where Johnny Depp wins in the end? That was a Warner Bros. movie.

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