Months after its release, the romantic comedy “Prom Pact” launched on Disney platforms last March has been ridiculed for its overt use of AI-generate extras.
A clip from the movie was shared on X, where digitally-generated characters, which appear noticeably artificial and rather ghastly, are seen cheering amidst genuine actors.
The clip has since been extensively mocked across social media.
Reminder this is what SAG-AFTRA is fighting against pic.twitter.com/dsZl130uif
— Caiden Reed | Ghostface-Doo (@caiden_reed) October 12, 2023
This issue of replacing human actors with AI is sharp in focus against the backdrop of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike that has halted Hollywood’s production.
It’s not the first time a TV program has been outed for its blatant and distasteful use of AI. “Secret Nation” (also Disney) was blasted earlier in the year for including AI-generated images in its credit scene, which incited similar criticisms to this latest Disney debacle.
One of the leading points of contention in the actors’ SAG-AFTRA strike is the potential for an actor’s image to be digitally replicated without obtaining proper consent and fair payment.
Specifically, actors fear their work might be condensed to a mere day if studios digitally replicate their personas and integrate them into different sequences.
The figures in Prom Pact are blatantly non-human, but sources close to The Hollywood Reporter disclosed that they aren’t AI-generated replicas of real people.
Instead, they were fashioned using various existing non-AI VFX methodologies, implying that these AI characters were the product of CG artists’ expertise.
Disney has a longstanding relationship with cutting-edge and emerging technologies and has clearly stated its intention to invest in AI.
In May 2023, on a post-earnings conference call, Disney CEO Bob Iger said, “It’s pretty clear that AI represents some pretty interesting opportunities for us, and some substantial benefits.”
Disney listed 11 highly-paid AI jobs on their website a few months ago, touching a nerve among SAG-AFTRA members. A Disney insider said, “Legacy media companies like Disney must either figure out AI or risk obsolescence.” Netflix also listed several AI-related jobs with massive salaries.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that employing digital extras to simulate crowds isn’t a novel concept in Hollywood. Films such as “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and TV series like “Ted Lasso” don’t genuinely recruit thousands of extras for vast stadium sequences.
A recent statement from AMPTP, representing major film studios, confirmed that their latest proposal to SAG-AFTRA regarding AI mandates actors to provide written consent.
Additionally, they must receive a comprehensive outline detailing the intended application of their digital duplicate if it’s requested or signed over. The strike continues.