Movie Studio Expansion Halted Over Fears About OpenAI’s Sora

$800M Studio Expansion Halted Over Fears About OpenAI's Sora
Creative arts, or replacable manual labor?

U.S. filmmaker Tyler Perry stopped the $800 million expansion of his studio in Atlanta over concerns about OpenAI’s new AI model, Sora, which creates ‘realistic’ videos from text prompts.

The billionaire planned to add 12 sound stages to his studio complex, but says “all of that [work] is currently and indefinitely on hold because of Sora and what I’m seeing.”

Also read: AI Tokens Hit New Highs as Investors Bet on OpenAI’s Sora

‘Shocking’ Sora capabilities

In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Perry, 54, spoke about his ‘shock’ over Sora’s capabilities and said the generative AI technology will lead to massive job losses in the film industry.

“I had gotten word over the last year or so that this [Sora] 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,” he said.

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, launched Sora on Feb. 15, but it is not yet available to the public. Only a limited number of users, including creators and researchers, have access to the tool.

Company CEO Sam Altman demonstrated how the technology works on X, formerly Twitter. He took requests from some of his followers, urging them “not to hold back on the detail or difficulty,” and created one-minute videos that look very real.

Perry said Sora could make the logistical demands of filmmaking, such as traveling to locations and building sets, useless.

“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 nothing,” he detailed.

“If I wanted to have two people in the living room in the mountains, I don’t have to build a set in the mountains; I don’t have to put a set on my lot. I can sit in an office and do this with a computer, which is shocking to me.”

AI job losses

Tyler Perry said he was “very, very concerned” that Sora could lead to the loss of “a lot of jobs” in the movie industry. He believes “actors, editors, sound specialists, and transporters” could lose their jobs.

“There’s got to be some sort of regulation in order to protect us. If not, I just don’t see how we survive,” he lamented.

According to Perry, entire industries, beyond just film, should have a conversation on how to protect livelihoods.

“I think that everybody has to be involved in how we protect the future of our industry because it is changing rapidly, right before our eyes,” he said.

“I think of all of the construction workers and contractors who are not going to be employed because I’m not doing this next phase of the studio because there is no need to do it.”

Artificial intelligence is already causing havoc in Hollywood. Last year, writers and actors went on a strike that lasted five months. Writers were worried AI could take their jobs, and actors feared being replaced by the technology on set.

The strike ended with an agreement between studio owners and workers, but people like Perry are still concerned about the harm that newer technology like Sora could have on the film ecosystem.

Perry sometimes plays Madea, a cheeky, elderly African-American woman. The role requires significant make-up and cosplaying. He said that in the future, such roles could be generated using AI. The filmmaker also admitted to using AI in two upcoming movies.

“That kept me out of makeup for hours. In post and on set, I was able to use this AI technology to avoid ever having to sit through hours of aging makeup,” Perry said.

Movie Studio Expansion Halted Over Fears About OpenAI's Sora
Tyler Perry with Kelly Rowland at the premiere of his New Netflix series Mea Culpa earlier this month. Source: Tyler Perry/X

Killing art

Media entrepreneur Edward Standley, however, warned that the adoption of AI in filmmaking could take away the depth associated with the art form. Posting on LinkedIn, Standley said there is a need to preserve the human element for relatability.

“As the entertainment sector grapples with the implications of AI adoption, debates on the extent of automation in creative decision-making intensify,” he wrote.

“Striking a harmonious synergy between AI-driven efficiencies and human ingenuity is crucial to upholding the authenticity and emotional depth of cinematic experiences.”

In his career, as arguably the first African-American major studio owner, Perry has framed himself as a community builder whose outlook is based on helping black talent get platforms. His views on AI and Sora have been received with mixed feelings on social media.

Some believe he is not being sincere in expressing worry over the future of jobs in the era of AI and announcing the use of artificial intelligence in his films in the same interview.

A recent study to predict the impact of artificial intelligence on the film industry found that up to 240,000 jobs could be lost.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.