Robots Could Start Greenlighting Movies Soon

Well, humanity, we had a good run. We're finally seeing the beginning of the robot revolution. Or, at least, the (probable) decline of creativity in the movie industry.

A script analysis company called ScriptBook claims that their artificial intelligence system may be the future of Hollywood. ScriptBook claims to have found a perfect algorithm for greenlighting or rejecting movies to produce maximum profit, and perhaps even win a few film awards.

In a Variety profile of ScriptBook, the company's founder Nadira Azermai claims to have found the solution to the movie industry's worrying profit decline. At a presentation at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, Azermai said that ScriptBook analyzed the screenplays for all of Sony's releases from 2015 to 2017 and correctly identified as 22 out of the 32 Sony movies that were box-office failures during that period from a total of 62 movies.

"If Sony had used our system they could have eliminated 22 movies that failed financially," Azermai said.

But Azermai wants to do more than just retroactively analyze movies. She wants to change the face of the movie industry as we know it. "Our mission is to revolutionize the business of storytelling by using AI to help producers, distributors, sales agents and financiers assess their risk," Azermai said.

Founded in 2015, ScriptBook has essentially created a financial forecasting tool that analyzes the text of screenplays and predicts their profit/loss margin. Here's how it works, according to Variety:

ScriptBook users upload a PDF file of a screenplay into the system. About five minutes later they receive a detailed analysis of the project that, among other things: predicts the MPAA rating, analyzes its characters, detecting the protagonists and antagonists; assesses the emotions of each character; predicts the target audience, including gender and race; and, most importantly, makes box office predictions.

Azermai claims that when ScriptBook greenlights a script, it has an 84% success rate, which is apparently three times greater than the accuracy rate of humans. (Although notably, ScriptBook failed to predict the success of La La Land, which it predicted would only gross $59 million instead of the $100 million it actually raked in.)

I don't know about you, but reducing the movie industry to code and numbers would only deliver a huge blow to the already-waning creativity levels in the upper echelons of Hollywood. Franchises and sequels already take priority over original ideas — which is an unfortunate side effect of the blockbuster-ization of Hollywood. But the numbers game isn't always a success — just look at Warner Bros. struggling to find their golden ticket by greenlighting a million Joker movies (as low-"risk" as you could get) or the box office disappointment of "sure bets" last summer like Baywatch or The Mummy. Maybe numbers can't really predict what audiences want. And maybe we're still a ways away from the robot revolution. For now.