Warner Bros turns to AI to greenlight movies

Hollywood to use machine learning to spot the good, the bad and the ugly at the box office

Warner Bros will trial a machine-learning platform to help predict how movies will perform at the box office. 

The iconic film studio said it will use Cinelytics' AI and cloud-based project management system to inform its decision around talent valuations and release strategies.

Cinelytic is a Hollywood-based business that applies machine-learning models to licensed performance data from the box office, home rentals and even pirated downloads, which it cross-references with information about genres, seasonal release dates and even actors. 

The company claims it can predict the economic value of a film and potentially the total revenues it will have over its lifetime. The deal is only a trial at the moment and will only involve the international side of the studio. 

"Warner Bros is excited to employ Cinelytic's cutting-edge system," said Tonis Kiis, Senior VP for international pictures at Warner Bros. "In our industry, we make tough decisions every day that affect what - and how - we produce and deliver films to theatres around the world, and the more precise our data is, the better we will be able to engage our audiences."

Cinelytics' platform is a subscription-based interface that works like a questionnaire, similar to an online insurance form. Users can enter information about their projects, such as budget, who is in it, who is directing, when and where it's being released and the machine learning algorithms match that its dataset. 

The company's CEO Tobias Queisser spoke to IT Pro last year and used the movie Hellboy as an example. Before its release, Queisser's team ran the film's information through the platform and its estimated box office takings were $23.3 million - less than half of its $50 million budget. 

It earned $21.8 million and the reason appeared to be the timing of its release. The film came out in a comic book-heavy spring schedule between DC's Shazam and  Marvel's Avengers: Endgame

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