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How Hollywood Should Absorb Tyler Perry’s AI Warning After Sora

Madea may be the role that made Tyler Perry famous, but he’s made headlines recently for inhabiting another iconic female character. 

The tragic goddess Cassandra, remembered in Greek mythology for having the gift of prophecy but the curse of no one believing her predictions, came to mind when Perry announced he was stopping an $800 million expansion on his Atlanta studio after one look at the new OpenAI software Sora.

That was apparently enough to convince him the text-to-video technology is bound to replace hundreds of industry workers unless the unions or government regulators intervene.

As legend has it, Cassandra futilely warned her fellow countrymen that the Greeks’ Trojan horse was no innocent gift. Will Perry’s own pleas for caution fall on deaf ears in Hollywood? 

VIP+ Analysis: Why Sora Isn’t Ready to Replace Hollywood

Asked on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business” whether the mogul was acting like Chicken Little, Steven Zeitchik, who often writes about artificial intelligence for his weekly Substack newsletter Mind and Iron, split the difference, saying Perry was being both a bit hysterical and responsible.

Listen to the podcast here:

“I think he’s hysterical in the notion that somehow we shouldn’t be building studios, or we should worry that the entire industry is just going to evaporate because some teenager can suddenly create the next ‘Medea’ or franchise that is going to resonate with people. I think that’s an exaggeration,” he said. “[And] I think he’s being responsible in the sense we need to be plotting our course well in advance of when we’ve been doing that.”

The notion that Sora and other similar software could lower the barriers to entry for creating premium video content on a computer that once required spending millions on sets, cameras, actors and more is disruptive, to say the least.

But as Zeitchik notes, there’s no guarantee that a potential flood of high-quality production values will necessarily translate to high-quality narrative, which could mean that the true artists Hollywood pays top dollar to distribute become more valuable than ever.

“The reality is not only can these models not actually create that — they may be able to emulate it — it’s going to make those people even more prized,” he noted. “There’s going to be even more of a premium put on people who could bring their artistry and humanity. I don’t think it’s going to touch that high level of content.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

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