Technology is disrupting Hollywood and its gonna hit hard

In the never ending discussion of what industry is going to be disrupted next, I have not seen Hollywood on the list just yet. This is actually strange since the movie industry is pretty much over-ripe for disruption by technology already today.

If you look at the plot of a standard blockbuster Hollywood movie, you usually see a combination of things like:

Car Chase (even if it makes no real sense in the plot)

Vehicle Chase (the more advanced version with motorbikes, boats, helicopters, trains, etc.)

Villain turning Hero (seems to be some sort of „in our hearts we are all good humans“)

Hero turning villain and back (the never-ending inner conflict, usually created by some major setback in the plot)

Villain as object of desire (probably the most intense conflict when the hero falls in love with the enemy)

Betrayal by friend (a trust relationship falling apart, usually involves the hero)

Limitless friendship (Forrest Gump type friends for life)

Everyday superpower (something very normal turns into the change-it-all skill)

Help the poor (typically some form of fighting for some minority)

Hide and seek (something gets uncovered step by step)

Attention scrambler (in order not keep people’s attention some perfectly logical model you had of the movie’s plot gets destroyed, often involves villains and betrayal)

The unknown cause (can happen that new facts get introduced totally out of the blue — can sometimes be unrealistic)

Hope (in all shapes and forms, if it gets destroyed you are watching a drama)

Mastermindedness (something or someone so clever, you could not guess — typically produced by hiding all clues until the end)

Hollywood is a pattern machine

I am pretty sure if someone would do a full analysis of all the successful blockbuster movies in the last 20 years you would end up in no more than 50 recurring patterns. It almost seems like all of the movies follow some sort of algorithm that determines how many of these patterns fit into the aimed length and how to combine and overlay them to generate market success. Ironically, many movies also seem to suffer from „ending cuts“ — where it appears that the producer at some point noticed the movie is going to be too long and then the story unnaturally accelerates towards the end. I remember several movies that draged along in a certain „plot speed“ and suddenly doubled in „events per minute“ in their last 15 minutes. Truly as if someone had to carve out 10 minutes and wanted to simplify his task by cutting at the end only (otherwise the already approved earlier parts would have needed re-approval).

Now if you project this into the future… it would be perfectly doable to automatically generate movie scripts out of the 50 or so building blocks. Imagine you have some script doing this, what you would need to fit into it is the main characters, some sort of major storyline (e.g. a murder story, or maybe mass murder for true blockbuster style) and how much action versus romance versus drama you want. To make things more interesting, you could add some generic scenes like maffia-style backroom discussions, warehouse trades of illegal goods and generic villian/hero dialogues.

New movie revenue chain

In essence we could construct a blockbuster movie with totally independent elements now. Some „movie snippet writers“ would create epic scenes of sorts that could be injected into any movie easily. Another party would create the basic movie setting (location, characters, genre) and then the movie algorithm will throw this all together and generate the script. Additionally, the producer can determine the length of the movie upfront which then populates into the scenes (e.g. number of cars in the car chase, number of turning points in the story, etc.). I am convinced that this is not only perfectly possible today but that some movie studios already have at least done some of these analysis in the past and are therefore able to predict commercial success of a movie with a good degree of probability.

If you now propel this a bit forward, why would you actually need to shoot that movie in the first place?

Realtime movies

It would be perfectly possible to just render all of it in realtime using e.g. a game engine like Unreal 4 (which already has amazing capabilities). You can 3D Scan places and utilize them in these engines, maybe putting some degree of customization on top (e.g. type of tree in a forrest). We have successfully scanned a whole industrial production facility of 3500sqm in about two hours. All the unwanted elements already get removed and you end up with a color 3D model in about a day. Location scouting would be put on a new level here, would turn into more of location scanning.

Now if that movie get generated in realtime, with whoever are your favorite characters, it could also be completely custom made. Personalization would be able to go into all levels from shortening the length from the recommended 95 minutes to 63, because you just do not have more time today. Towards generating completely personalized stories, if you like action, you will always get 50% more action than the others, same for romance or whatever.

Everything custom made

What we would end up with would be custom made movies, as many as you like, fitting your mood of the day. You would not stream the movie but more its 3D model which would also allow you to change camera position according to your preference. Want to view the movie from your favourite characters perspective? No problem. Want to peek „behind the scenes?“ No problem either. It would feel a bit more like being inside some version GTA than watching a movie.

Startup idea

This is true disruption which would democratize the hollywood industry into a place for collaboration and new forms of creativity that are not driven by commercially proven success patterns. I think this is a great space for startups which would be much more impactful than what Steve Jobs was able to create with Pixar. If you are up for building a „Robo Films Inc.“ I would like to invest in you.

What next?

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