AI comes for jobs at studio of American filmmaker Tyler Perry

$800M expansion canceled after a mere glimpse at the power of Sora

If you ask American film mogul Tyler Perry, AI isn't coming for jobs – it's already taken them. Case in point, Perry's Atlanta film studio, where the movie maker just scrapped an expansion in the works for four years after getting a glimpse of OpenAI's Sora. 

Perry's studio was in the midst of an $800 million expansion plan that would have added 12 new soundstages and increased usable backlot space at the 330-acre facility. Sora, a text-to-video machine learning algorithm previewed by OpenAI last week, makes that entire expansion pointless, Perry told The Hollywood Reporter this week. 

"I had gotten word over the last year or so that this was coming, but I had no idea until I saw recently the demonstrations of what it's able to do. It's shocking to me," Perry told THR. "I no longer would have to travel to locations. If I wanted to be in the snow in Colorado, it's text. If I wanted to write a scene on the Moon, it's text, and this AI can generate it like [its] nothing."

Perry is even experimenting with some use of AI in upcoming films, he said. AI used in a pair of yet-to-be announced films "kept me out of makeup for hours," Perry explained, adding that it was used to age him on screen in the undisclosed projects.

The example Sora clips published by OpenAI are definitely impressive – especially considering where we were with AI video just a year ago – but even OpenAI admits the product isn't safe enough for the general public yet (obviously). Along with not being safety certified, Sora also still has trouble with things like spatial details, accurate physics, and cause and effect.

So while it looks good in a few tightly controlled sample outputs, let's not assume it's ready to whip up the next Madea movie.

Regardless of its current limitations, Perry is still worried about what Sora-like technology might do to the entertainment industry, especially once it's good enough to be a more economical choice.

Even though he said he doesn't feel pressured to use AI in his films, Perry said he's looking at what advantages it could bring to the table. "I'm looking at my business and the bottom line, but I'm also very concerned about all the people [and] what will happen to them," Perry said.

"If you could spend a fraction of the cost to do a pilot … if you're looking at HBO, of course the bottom line of those companies would be to go the route of lesser costs," Perry told THR. "I am very, very concerned that in the near future, a lot of jobs are going to be lost. I really, really feel that very strongly."

Perry admitted that it's just a matter of time until AI is embraced by the film industry, and said he hopes various unions across entertainment can come together to fight for some sort of protection.

"I just hope … that there'll be some sort of thought and some sort of compassion for humanity," Perry said. "I think the only way to move forward in this is to galvanize it as one voice, not only in Hollywood and in this industry, but also in Congress."

Perry should know – a quick glimpse at an AI was enough for him to kill a studio expansion, and a bunch of jobs with it. Imagine what the hype around a full-fledged product could do. ®

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