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article imageWarner Brothers to use AI to predict film success

By Ken Hanly     Jan 9, 2020 in Entertainment
The giant film company Warner Bros. has a contract with Cinelytic a Los Angeles AI startup uses AI algorithms to predict a film's success. This will help guide Warner Bros. Pictures International decision-making in marketing and distribution.
AI is only a helpful tool
Cinelytic's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tobias Queisser emphasized that AI was only a helpful tool to assist in making decisions saying: “Artificial intelligence sounds scary. But right now, an AI cannot make any creative decisions. 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.”
Hollywood starting to use AI
The deal is a step forward in Hollywood finally beginning to use AI and machine learning.
A recent article
describes the deal: "Resistance is futile. Warner Bros. has become the latest studio to publicly embrace artificial intelligence.The movie division has signed a deal with Cinelytic to use the latter’s AI-driven project management system that was launched last year.Under the new deal, Warners will leverage the system’s comprehensive data and predictive analytics to guide decision-making at the greenlight stage. The integrated online platform can 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."
Cinelytic
already has several competitors: "Cinelytic isn’t the only company hoping to apply AI to the business of film. In recent years, a bevy of firms has sprung up promising similar insights. Belgium’s ScriptBook, founded in 2015, says its algorithms can predict a movie’s success just by analyzing its script. Israeli startup Vault, founded the same year, promises clients that it can predict which demographics will watch their films by tracking (among other things) how its trailers are received online. Another company called Pilot offers similar analyses, promising it can forecast box office revenues up to 18 months before a film’s launch with “unrivaled accuracy.” " However, the film industry historically has been skeptical about the claims of AI prnmoters.
Industry is cautious
Andrea Scarso a film investor as well as a customer of Cinelytic said the new startups had not really changed his mind but was initiating a conversation about new approaches. Scarso said: “You can see how, sometimes, just one or two different elements around the same project could have a massive impact on the commercial performance.”
Even many AI experts believe algorithms have limited predictive ability about filmmaking
Machine learning is based on historical data and thus tends to be conservative and not capture new creative elements that could be popular. It in effect is based upon past successes. As such it will miss new trends. Studies show that the algorithms often produce obvious insights that competent analysts would discover without AI,
Possible use of machine learning in the film industry
The AI algorithms can produce uncomplicated analysis faster than humans. As such, they could be useful at events such as film festivals. Studios are forced into bidding wars for distribution rights with only a few hours to decide how much a film is worth. The AI might be able to help make decisions in such scenarios.
Tony Kiis
Warner's senior vice-president of distribution said: “We make tough decisions every day that affect what — and how — we produce and deliver films to theaters around the world, and the more precise our data is, the better we will be able to engage our audiences."
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