Would you watch these cheesy AI-written holiday movies?

Would you watch these cheesy AI-written holiday movies?

AI movie poster of Santa Claus and the people around him

An AI-generated movie poster for the AI-generated holiday movie premise: “Santa’s Helpers”.


Holiday movies provide solace and tug at heartstrings in the corniest way. So, in our tech-obsessed culture, what if AI tried to take over and write a classic holiday movie?

This clumsy premise was put to the test in a new case study presumably designed to remind me that writers are once again indispensable.

A team from Cinch Home Services used AI to create 12 Hallmark-style holiday movies and asked holiday movie fans to rank them based on description. The movies even come with AI-generated movie posters.

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It’s not a new idea. The film industry already uses powerful story-generating algorithms in a variety of popular screenwriting programs. These apps use machine learning and natural language processing to build on the contributions of storytellers. Examples include platforms such as Jasper, which has a useful feature called Longform Assistant that storytellers can use to create characters and story ideas.

There are also dedicated AI script generators and wizards, such as DeepStory. Combined with viewer analytics, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which Hollywood relies heavily on AI for idea generation and script execution. In 2016, an AI-written short starring Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch debuted on Ars Technica, and it was pretty awesome.

So what happened when AI turned to simulating movie descriptions?

The results ranged from uninspired to actually pretty awesome.

At the uninspired end of the spectrum is The Christmas Wish, for which the AI ​​came up with a fairly generic description: “When a young girl’s Christmas wish comes true, she learns that sometimes the best gifts are those that you can’t put a price tag on.”

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Besides being saccharine, the description doesn’t really describe much. Sure, you can say that about many movie descriptions, but the AI ​​can do a whole lot better.

One of my favorites is Santa’s Helpers. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that!

When the North Pole elves go on strike, Santa must find a way to finish all the toys before Christmas Eve. He decides to hire a group of out-of-work humans to help him, but it turns out that they aren’t as reliable as he had hoped.

So what did survey respondents think of AI-generated movies?

To spice things up, descriptions of true holiday classics like Elf and Home Alone have been mixed in with the fake movies. Respondents were then asked to rank the movies they would most like to watch.

Somewhat surprisingly, eight of the top 10 films were created by AI, including three of the top five.

What are the takeaways here? For one thing, Americans seem more interested in AI-concocted movie theaters than some of the long-running holiday classics…which perhaps says something about our changing tastes.

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On the plus side, there was a definite trend toward wanting more LGBTQ representation in holiday movies, which historically have tended to feature heterosexual, cis-gender characters. 33.8% of respondents also wanted greater representation of holidays other than Christmas, reflecting a growing desire to see diversity reflected on the big screen.

Ultimately, corny exercises like this show a dawning reality. Even creative endeavors such as film ideation and execution fall under AI and enhanced learning – which raises what I think is an important question: what chance does a journalist have?

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