The Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film 2021 program featured a discussion on whether AI can create and predict the next European blockbuster? The panel featured Sami Arpa, CEO of Swiss-based AI-assisted moviemaking company Largo Films, who gave a presentation regarding AI’s use in moviemaking which revealed the answer once and for all.

Marché du Film

The Marché du Film translates as “Film Market” in English and is a business roadshow for the Cannes Film Festival. Due to it being attached to one of the most famous film festival’s in the world, the Marché du Film is now one of the largest film markets in the world.

Created back in 1959, this year’s festival recorded over 4,000 films and projects, and 12,500 participants from 121 different countries.

So can AI Predict the Next European Blockbuster?

The discussion kicked off with a word from producer Damien Megherbi who outlined why there is a need for more tools to help filmmakers.

He stated that “Curiosity was the first feeling. When we jump into a project it is based on the director’s vision and the originality of the script, so we were very curious about how we could be helped by AI to keep our traditional approach but with more efficiency.”

Sami Arpa then moved on to give his analysis of one of the projects that had been selected for analysis by Largo.AI. He gave a breakdown of the genre recipe of the film as extrapolated by Largo.ai. The film is a period fantasy piece that deals with the suppression of gay culture in Chile during the emergence of HIV in the 1980s.

The results are shown below:

After explaining the ratios and what they imply regarding the film in question, Arpa asked both the producers present and audience to pick one that they would predict with the highest return on investment.

The audience concurred with the producers that the script with the most romantic comedy elements (script 2) would yield the highest return on investment. Much to everyone’s surprise, Arpa revealed that it was in fact the 3rd script, which had come in last place with the audience but which the system had predicted that would make the highest returns.

Making Changes

After introducing the AI prediction, Arpa then went on to demonstrate the power of AI to adjust different parameters about the production to see how this would change the final gross of the film. He began with the budget.

He asked the producers to pick the most suitable budget, $2m, $5m, and $10m for the script. Both directors picked $5 and were proven right by Largo.ai’s results which showed very little difference between a $5m and $10m budget.

Next, Arpa offered a choice of 3 different popular French directors. Once again, but only by a small margin, Largo.ai picked French director Francois Ozon. The producers’ and audience’s choice came in a close second.

Continuing through actor selection and release strategy for the selected region, Arpa finished up with the gross earning predictions for the main selections made by the producers and audiences including a selection that would result the lowest return on investment.

The exercise was intended to show just how important it is to make the right choices. Indeed, of all the 162 possible combinations, Largo.ai found that only 35 combinations would prove to be a box office success, leaving 127 combinations that would become a box office flop.

Producers Give Their Results

Asked if AI-assisted moviemaking was the kind of tool that producers would find a good way to work on their distribution plans, producer Justin Pechberty commented “Definitely, I have the sensation that its easier when you already have information about the package, when you know who the director is, and when you have all this information about how other films performed.”

Damien Megherbi wrapped it up by concluding that “You are being more objective about what you have, it won’t change the film but maybe it will change the perspective that you have on it.”

Both producers echo the sentiment of the vast majority of producers and movie professionals that have used Largo.ai, that it represents a powerful tool that can allow filmmakers to gain a better understanding of their films by offering new perspectives based on past audience data.

To see the full Marché du Film 2021 seminar on “Can AI Create and Predict the Next European Blockbuster?”, just click the link embedded here.