Tyler Perry stops $800m studio expansion after seeing Sora

February 23, 2024

American actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry has put the $800m expansion of his Atlanta film studio on hold after seeing what OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora is capable of.

Earlier this week OpenAI unveiled Sora, which can generate realistic, coherent, and character-consistent video of up to 60 seconds based on a text prompt.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Perry explained that after seeing Sora in action he realized that he needed to rethink how his company was going to produce movies.

“Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind-blowing,” Perry said.

Explaining the scale of his shelved project, Perry said, “I have been watching AI very closely and watching the advancements very closely. I was in the middle of, and have been planning for the last four years, about an $800 million expansion at the studio, which would’ve increased the backlot a tremendous size, we were adding 12 more soundstages. All of that is currently and indefinitely on hold because of Sora and what I’m seeing.”

Jobs at risk

Perry isn’t averse to the idea of using AI in filmmaking and said that he had used it in two of his films that are yet to be released. He used AI to age himself in post-production instead of enduring hours of makeup application.

The rethink of his studio expansion and the capability of AI has made him very concerned about jobs in the industry.

AI tools like Sora mean that there is no need to travel to a location to get just the right shot. There’s no need for a cameraman, a set builder, an electrician, or even an actor.

“It makes me worry so much about all of the people in the business. Because, as I was looking at it, I immediately started thinking of everyone in the industry who would be affected by this, including actors and grip and electric and transportation and sound and editors, and looking at this, I’m thinking this will touch every corner of our industry,” Perry said.

SAG-AFTRA, the labor union representing performers and broadcasters, is trying to find ways to protect the rights of its members and recently announced an agreement on how AI replicas of voice actors can be used in video games.

Perry called for broader action to mitigate the inevitable job losses in the film industry but acknowledged that production companies are under pressure to cut costs and prioritize profitability.

The $800m that Perry planned to spend would have gone into the pockets of real people with families they need to care for. Most of us were excited and in awe when we got to see what Sora was capable of.

But there are a lot of people in Hollywood who would have experienced a very different range of emotions.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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