Technology already infiltrated every aspect of human life, so it’s only a matter of time before newer, more advanced techniques begin to dominate. Artificial intelligence is certainly having a moment: it has so far wedged itself in the world of Game of Thrones predictions, medicine, and even porn. The latest proposal is called Scriptbook, an AI that can analyze screenplays and identify which movies will do well at a box office, thereby saving studios from banking duds, Variety reports.
“If Sony had used our system they could have eliminated 22 movies that failed financially” from 2015 to 2017, said Scriptbook founder Nadira Azermai. In a presentation at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Azermai quantified just how helpful his AI could’ve been for Sony: the software retroactively identified 22 out of 32 Sony movies that lost money in that two-year period in which Sony released 62 movies total.
The software is already up and running. Users can upload a PDF of a screenplay and, just minutes later, receive an analysis of the potential movie, including a prediction of the MPAA rating, the target audience (which is broken down by gender and race) and a character analysis that detects protagonists and antagonists and character emotions. The software also makes box office predictions.
“[Distributors] now rely on subjective decision-making, reading the script and going with what their gut says,” Azermai says. “But we want to mitigate the risk by adding objective parameters that will tell them far more. Expertise means a lot but it’s important to back it with metrics.”
In addition to helping reduce risk, the objective nature of the tech can help in other ways, too. Namely: gender parity. The software can determine whether a movie passes the Bechdel test (if at least two female characters have a conversation that is not about a man.) It can also count the number of dialogs that a script has between two men, between two women, and between males and females.
Of course, many might be hesitant to inject such technology into a medium that is seen as an art form and therefore entirely subjective. Critics might argue that relying on software stifles creativity. Plus, there are plenty of examples of movies that didn’t make the intended profit but still contributed to culture in significant ways, often becoming popular decades after their release date.
Of course, Azermai disagrees. “ScriptBook’s AI will just kick out movies that follow certain formulas,” he explains. “It’s very good at picking out artistic movies that do well financially.”