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Generative AI & Entertainment Part 2: A Special Report

In the year since generative AI software first began to emerge for use, the staggering pace and breadth of development has condensed years of growth and change into months and weeks. But among the places where these tools may find the greatest straight-line relevance are film and TV production.

Generative AI offers potential material uses in production processes, but for many in Hollywood, it has become a specter, viewed as an existential threat to the basic roles and livelihoods of entertainment industry workers.

Job security tensions in the industry are high. In September 2023, 42% of U.S. entertainment professionals said they were very or somewhat concerned about the impact of generative AI on their job over the next 2-3 years, up from 36% in July, according to VIP+/YouGov surveys fielded among 510 U.S. film and TV professionals.

As the industry reckons with generative AI, Variety Intelligence Platform’s special report “Generative AI & Entertainment Part 2” comprehensively examines the risks and impact of the technology’s use in film and TV production.

Before any constructive adoption can occur, the industry will first need to understand the possible outcomes of generative AI retooling. We unpack the nuances of how AI automation stands to augment or diminish human work throughout the film and TV value chain and, further, how its entry might reshape traditional skills and workflows.

Beyond its implications and possibilities for labor and talent, generative AI also poses larger risks for the industry on complicated and unresolved legal, ethical and technical fronts. These include unsettled guidance on copyright law regarding generative AI training and the protectability of AI-generated outputs, unauthorized uses of studio IP, nonconsensual deepfakes featuring talent likenesses, new compliance challenges as the AI regulation emerges and, finally, the limitations of the tech itself that we expect to forestall active use cases in entertainment.

This report critically unpacks these risks to present the current state of understanding and progress toward mitigation. In the brave new world of generative AI, media executives and creatives will need to evaluate, define and begin to build ways to coexist with and benefit from these tools as Hollywood navigates a path forward.

Research for this report included a series of over 20 background conversations conducted primarily in August 2023 with media and entertainment (M&E) advisers, legal specialists in M&E and IP law, independent filmmakers involving AI tools in processes and generative AI company founders and leaders.

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