AI Can Shave Millions From Film Production Costs Without Replacing Creatives, Study Finds

Bain & Co. details potential industry savings but warns: “Don’t replace creatives with robots”

The cast of Avengers Infinity War.
Using artificial intelligence and other tech tools could shave costs for a blockbuster film by 15% to 20%, a Bain & Co. study finds.

Studios should “spurn” the idea that artificial intelligence tools can replace writers, actors and visual artists and instead embrace the technology’s ability to shave tens of millions off the cost of the production process, a new study by the consulting firm Bain & Co. said.

“Don’t replace creatives with robots,” the consultancy warned, calling the people behind films “the heart” of the business.

“Creative industries are built on art, and any technology should support that art, not try to supplant the creative process,” the report states. Generative AI can technically be used to draft and edit a script, for example, but doing so “puts you at dangerous risk of alienating the very people your business relies on.

“Online buzz and ongoing strikes highlight fears of how artificial intelligence could replace our writers, actors, and visual artists, but generative AI shouldn’t replace our creatives — not if we want quality content,” said the report, “Tech in Content Production: Will AI Kill the Video Star?”

“What new tech, including AI, should do is pull more of the creative process up front and streamline production and post-production,” the study advised.

Used appropriately, the report continued, generative AI and other new tech, “can improve content quality with new creative possibilities and more efficient production, without replacing creative talent.”

The study laid out three scenarios.

The first was a comedy movie with a $50 million budget that uses limited visual effects. Using generative AI before filming, for instance to block out scenes, and in post-production, could reduce costs by 5% to 10%, including cutting 4 weeks off production time.

For a flick with a larger budget, like a $100 million family movie, using game-engine tools in pre-production and during filming can streamline the process and shave 20% off time and budget, the study said.

The savings get greater for bigger, blockbuster-type films. A $200 million sci-fi sequel, for example, could slash costs by $30 million to $40 million, including reducing production time by 25% using AI and other tech-based tools throughout the process, the study said.

“Our estimates on the potential of generative AI are conservative, based on today’s technology and our current benchmarks,” the Bain researchers wrote. “Generative AI is already being worked into game engines and LED wall technology, however, and its evolution should turbocharge these savings, especially once IP issues are solved and the tech is adapted more widely for production use.”

The contract studios reached with the Writers Guild of America states that studios are not allowed to require writers to use AI as a tool and must disclosed if any AI-generated material is given to writers during the process. It also includes key language regarding use of its members work in data sets to train AI.

AI is also a major point of contention for the ongoing actors’ strike. Negotiations are set to resume in that action on Monday.


One response to “AI Can Shave Millions From Film Production Costs Without Replacing Creatives, Study Finds”

  1. Vin Avatar

    Anyone who uses “creatives” as a noun (whatever happened to “artists”?) is chomping at the bit to replace humans with robots. Don’t believe an ounce of this.

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