June 22, 2020

Creating Better Films with AI

Creating Better Films with AI

20th Century Fox leverages Google Cloud’s AI and Machine Learning technologies to identify audiences and provide content that can better create a meaningful experience for movie enthusiasts around the world.

Filmmakers don’t simply just make films and hope for the best. The need to know and articulate the reasons for a film to be made and circulated forms part of an exhaustive process of analysing various aspects of the movie that will (or won’t) resonate with audiences that consist of people from different countries, cultures and belief systems. For a filmmaker to use the wrong algorithm when telling a story can be catastrophic.

This is why 20th Century Fox has invested heavily in Machine Learning and AI to help them analyse audience demographics, preferences and opinions to ensure that their content has maximum audience appeal as well as to predict box office performance. This ultimately translates to long term business growth. Using Google Cloud for advanced audience targeting allows 20th Century Fox to marry content and audiences in a way that provides data-driven insights to find the perfect match.

Merlin is a tool used by the film giant to answer the question of the type of movie that is being made. Trailers are analysed using computer vision, and plots combed through using natural language processing (NLP) to establish the basic “DNA” of the movie. Night Crawler performs massive parallel multi tests across hundreds of audiences worldwide and provides a report to help describe core fans, persuadable audiences and those who would show no interest in the movie at hand in unprecedented detail.

Both of these tools were used extensively in the production of The Greatest Showman, which film executives had compared closely to Lalaland, which had aired the year before due to online chatter and social media data. However, when applying their ML tools, 20th Century Fox discovered that the predicted audience of younger females was incorrect and that The Greatest Showman would resonate more with those who gravitated towards family movies, Disney musicals and feel-good, empowering dramas. These insights allowed 20th Century Fox to create a movie that grossed upward of $400 million worldwide.

Machine Learning in the film and media industry allows businesses and organisations to compete for audiences in a world of incomplete but multidimensional data and to put processes in place to measure alignment between audiences and content. In the case of 20th Century Fox, building AI tools aided in amplifying the work of film executives to create more meaningful viewing experiences.