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Scarlett Johansson: Ghost in the GPT

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Good morning: In today’s edition of The Industry, we look at:

Cannes’ Apprentice, Mark Wahlberg’s Tundra, Demi Moore has substance, from Chekhov to HBO, and a Corsican Godfather.

Let’s go!


SCARLETT JOHANSSON: GHOST IN THE GPT

In Her (2013), Scarlett Johansson masterfully played an AI operating system named Samantha, who fell deeply in love with her user (Joaquin Phoenix).

A decade later, Sam Altman, the founder of Open AI, Chat GPT’s parent company, reached out to Johansson to voice GPT 4o’s virtual assistant.

Johansson put out a statement, recounting:

“He told me that he felt that by my voicing the system, I could bridge the gap between tech companies and creatives and help consumers to feel comfortable with the seismic shift concerning humans and AI. He said he felt that my voice would be comforting to people.”

Johansson declined to participate.

But last week, during the first product demo of GPT 4o, a voice sounding startlingly identical to Johansson’s in Her was used.

Johansson has already hired legal counsel.

What is most disturbing is not Altman’s alleged theft but his maniacal idea to use Johansson’s voice as a Trojan horse to force mass adoption of his tech upon creatives.

His company’s desire to supplant human creativity has already begun to latch into other domains in the film industry:

  • Editing
  • Documentary filmmaking
    • Sora, their text-to-video generator
  • Scriptwriting
    • Chat GPT

How long until we start seeing scripts co-written by GPT?

Right now, LLMs need millions of pieces of training data to replicate an input (see: AlphaGo or AlphaFold). Right now, it would take millions of A-grade screenplays to generate a good one.

But there are not millions of exceptional screenplays. In the 100+ years of cinema, there are maybe 10,000.

Even given the hockey-stick curve acceleration of these models, we are still fairly far out from an AI writing or co-authoring a compelling screenplay.

Our industry must continue to thrive on human-to-human collaboration.

Up-and-coming creatives may not see the value in this because the alternative’s efficiency and effectiveness are addictive.

So whatever our future holds, let’s, at least for the moment, embrace our imperfections as the true essence of filmmaking.

For More:

Chat GPT 4o demo. Johansson-esque voice clip.

Compare this to Joaquin Phoenix booting up his OS for the first time in Her (2013). Clip.


THE INDUSTRY NEWS

Cannes absolutely loves Trump. Bet you never expected to hear those words about the 45th president from Cannes’ left-leaning base, but the biopic The Apprentice received a long standing ovation after its premiere.

The film chronicles Trump, played by Sebastian Stan, and his mentorship with Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong), the man who taught him every dirty trick he knows. Cohn took Trump from a tiny little landlord living in his father’s shadow into a man who soon overpassed him and transformed into who he is today.

Cannes seems favorable to this depiction, with some even saying it humanizes the president.

There has been a bit of drama with the film already, though, the first has been Donald’s relationship with his wife Ivana, played by Maria Bakalova (Borat 2). Part of the film covers their messy divorce, and one scene has been dubbed as going too far in showing domestic sexual assault.

That scene and the reaction led to Dan Snyder, former owner of the Washington Commanders, publicly threatening to sue the production he helped fund, thinking it would be a flattering display of Trump.

While it has not yet gotten distributors, there is no doubt a bidding war behind the curtains, a political biopic on the year the man is running for re-election, and it’s just too hot-button of an event to miss.

Mel Gibson directs Mark Wahlberg in a Blacklist scriptl, Flight Risk. This is Gibson’s first feature since Hacksaw Ridge (2016).

Here’s the official synopsis:

An Air Marshal transporting a fugitive across the Alaskan wilderness via a small plane finds herself trapped when she suspects their pilot (Wahlberg) is not who he says he is.

Gibson’s work is singular for his protagonist’s heroism in the face of impossible risk, like in Hacksaw Ridge (2016), which follows a soldier in WW2 who refuses to fire a gun. Or Braveheart (1995), where a man takes on a king’s army.

It would be nice to see Gibson refresh the on-flight drama.

Lionsgate is releasing on October 18th.

Lionsgate will also release The Killer’s Game on September 13th, starring Dave Bautista as a hitman who gets a terminal diagnosis and puts a hit out on himself.

Steven Rales, Indian Paintbrush founder, buys Criterion and Janus Films.

Peter Becker, the president of Criterion and Janus Films, stated:

“We have grown our brands and audience with dedication to a set of values reflected in the films we release, the way we release them, and the way we conduct our business with our valued partners around the world.”

Rales is a champion of indie cinema, having produced nine Wes Anderson films through Indian Paintbrush and a film by Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl).

Janus Films and Sideshow have just acquired All We Imagine as Light, the first Indian Cannes official selection in four decades.

Here is the trailer.


THE ACTOR SPOTLIGHT

Elijah Wood seems to really like working with Ant Timpson. Only a few years after their first creative outing, Come To Daddy (2020, trailer), which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, they’re off with a new picture.

Wood will star in the New Zealand writer/director’s newest film, Bookworm.

Here’s the official synopsis:

11-year-old Mildred’s world is turned upside-down when her estranged father, the washed-up magician Strawn Wise (Wood), comes to look after her and agrees to take her camping to find a mythological beast known as the Canterbury Panther.

Here’s an epic first-look photo of a despondent Wood.

Timpson has a twisted writing style with a few good rug pulls that seem perfect for Wood’s post-LOTR genre fare. Come To Daddy was also a hyper-violent dark comedy about rekindling family relationships.

Bookworm has just been picked up for UK distribution by Signature Entertainment. More distribution and a release date should be announced soon.

G.I. Jane herself makes her Cannes debut! Demi Moore, alongside Margaret Qualley and Dennis Quaid, stars in the highly anticipated thriller The Substance.

Written and directed by French filmmaker Coralie Fargeat, this body horror film with a feminist take revolves around a new “substance” that promises to transform people into the best version of themselves, but there’s a twist.

Moore, who started her career on the long-withstanding soap opera General Hospital (1982-1984), quickly became a major movie star in the 80s and 90s with countless box-office hits:

  • About Last Night (1986)
  • Ghost (1990)
    • Opposite Patrick Swayze
  • Indecent Proposal (1993)
    • In the erotic drama film with Robert Redford
  • Disclosure (1994)
  • The Scarlet Letter (1995)
    • The romantic historical film

In discussing what now being an older actress in Hollywood is, Moore said:

“I think what’s most important is how you hold yourself not how the world is holding you… which is exactly what The Substance is about – this male perspective of the idealized woman, that we as women have bought into… and I think we are changing. We are living the change right now.”

The Substance is already being referred to as a major comeback movie for Moore.

Tidbits:

From Chekhov to HBO. Steve Carell is currently playing Uncle Vanya on Broadway and is now set to star in an HBO comedy.

Official synopsis:

A comedy revolving around an author’s intricate bond with his daughter, set against the backdrop of a college campus.

The untitled project comes from Bill Lawrence (co-creator: Ted Lasso, Scrubs).

Cannes official selection Motel Destino director Karim Aïnouz has a star-studded cast for his new project, Rosebushpruning:

  • Kristen Stewart
  • Elle Fanning
  • Josh O’Connor (Challenger)

Official synopsis:

A family struggling with genetic illnesses lives on a country estate. Personal drama develops amongst them in this intimate portrait.

Currently in pre-production.


FESTIVALS

The Big Apple Film Festival kicked off today in NYC.

There was a major standout during their short film block:

  • Minutes to Go
    • Dir: Rick Page, longtime Brooklyn Nine-Nine DP/camera operator
    • Great take on heaven, purgatory, and a power chair

Other great shorts included Love in a Bottle, an exploration of the horrors of beauty standards, and Matilde Silva’s deeply personal Healing Plan, which explored the pain of her immigration experience through a nightmarish quick-fix doctor.


INDIE FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT

Writer-director Julien Colonna’s debut feature film The Kingdom, a crime saga turn coming-of-age film, is being compared to legendary mob films like The Godfather (1972) following its Cannes premiere.

The Kingdom (or Le Royaume in its native French) official synopsis:

Corsica, 1995. It’s Lesia’s first summer as a teenager. One day a man bursts into her life and takes her to an isolated villa where she finds her father, in hiding, surrounded by his clan. An underworld war erupts. The noose is tightening around them. Death strikes. Forced to go on the run, father and daughter will learn to face one another, to understand and love each other…

The photographer and now filmmaker, Julien Colonna offers an authentic experience of his native home, Corsica, the film taking place in the 90s when the island’s rampant organized crime escalated immensely.

The idea for the film came to Colona when he first heard his wife was pregnant, and it led him to think about his future relationship with his child.

He believed it essential to hire natives to Corsica, most of whom had never acted before, including the young breakout star Ghjuvanna Benedetti, who is being praised for her performance.

Tidbit:

Longlegs (dir: Oz Perkins) full trailer. Happy nightmares.

Hansel and Gretel, a new twisted stop-motion film by Cannes Director’s fortnight filmmakers, added new EPs. Ari Aster (Dir: Hereditary) and Lars Knudsen (Hereditary, The Witch, Midsommar), so it’s bound to be wild.


ON THIS DAY

1990. 43rd Cannes Film Festival: Wild at Heart, directed by David Lynch and starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, wins the Palme d’Or.


See you Wednesday.


Written by Gabriel Miller, Madelyn Menapace, and Spencer Carter.

Editor: Gabriel Miller.

 

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