"Tom Cruise to Act Forever, Even After Death? Questions Raised in the Era of AI Actors"
- 미디어1 (email@example.com)
- Jul 21 2023 11:58 AM
Disputes Over Publicity Rights, Fear of Job Loss in Film Industry "AI may take our jobs," contributing to recent Hollywood strikes
Actor Tom Cruise greeting fans at the red carpet event for the film 'Mission Impossible 7' at Lotte World Mall in Songpa-gu, Seoul, on the 29th of last month. Yonhap News
As AI technology extends its reach into the film and drama sector, it's raising complicated questions. According to a report by the BBC on the 19th, the possibility of AI reviving deceased actors is presenting the industry with some tricky issues. One of the reasons for the recent concurrent strike by writers and actors in Hollywood, for the first time in 63 years, is the fear that "AI might steal our jobs."
James Dean, a 'real' immortal star thanks to AI
James Dean (right) during his time in 'Rebel Without a Cause'. Korea Daily Archive
The BBC highlighted James Dean, who passed away in a car accident in 1955, as a prime example of an AI actor. The revived James Dean, courtesy of AI, has been cast as the lead in the film 'Back to Eden'. According to the BBC, "James Dean's AI avatar can interact with audiences not only on a flat screen but also on augmented reality, virtual reality, and other interactive platforms." This allows the actor, who was twice posthumously nominated for an Academy Award and dubbed an 'immortal star,' to truly become immortal.
The emergence of AI actors is not a new narrative. At the age of 80, Harrison Ford was made to look in his 40s in 'Indiana Jones' thanks to AI de-aging technology, and Paul Walker, who died during the filming of 'Fast & Furious 7' in 2014, still appeared in the film in his original likeness.
The rapid evolution of AI is changing industry norms. Jamie Yeo, a Singaporean actor, signed a unique contract with the fintech company 'Hugo Save,' allowing unlimited use of her image and voice through deepfake technology. While football stars Lionel Messi and David Beckham have shot commercial advertisements using deepfake methods, they have not handed over their entire publicity rights like Yeo.
Who Gets the Profits from Posthumous AI Actors?
From the audience's perspective, the emergence of AI actors may be a welcome development as it allows fans to continue enjoying the works of their favorite actors even after they pass away or retire. However, the distribution of profits and other issues related to publicity rights become complicated. The BBC pointed out uncomfortable questions such as, "Who owns the rights to a deceased person's face and voice? What happens if an actor who played rugged roles is suddenly cast in a foolish comedy or porn?" There's the risk of an actor's image being used inappropriately or profits not being returned to the actor. These are issues that could not have been imagined in the 1950s, when James Dean was alive.
In the United States, which leads the global film industry, there are virtually no laws protecting posthumous publicity rights. It's not legally problematic to create an AI avatar from a person's digital legacy. Lawyer Eric Kahn told the BBC that "even if the use and distribution of posthumous publicity rights are included in a will, the legal effectiveness is limited as there is no contractual party." When actor Robin Williams passed away in 2014, he asked to "protect my digital likeness" and demanded a 'right to be forgotten', but the effect of his will only lasts until 2039.
Jobs Being Taken by AI... Tom Cruise Expresses Concern
The issue of job loss is also not straightforward. If AI actors dominate the market, other actors could lose their positions, and the same applies to voice actors, writers, and staff. Tom Cruise, who is renowned for minimizing the use of computer graphics and performing his own stunts, expressed concern last June about replacing actors with AI, according to a report by CNN.
Members of the Writers Guild of America picketing outside the Amazon Studios site in Culver City, California, on the 2nd of last month. Culver City=AP Newsis
"Cutting Production Costs"... There Are Supporters Too
However, the era of 'AI actors' is an unstoppable trend. Steven Regelous, an engineer who worked on the CG for 'Lord of the Rings,' stated in a 2017 interview that "by 2045, AI actors will be active. This method can reduce production time and save budgets."
It's not only disadvantages for actors who can potentially secure massive copyright revenues depending on the contract. Jamie Yeo stated, "Using deepfakes, I earn more than when I work," and Tom Hanks mentioned, "Even if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I can continue acting," showing the same context.
As AI actors are just beginning to be introduced, debates are expected to continue for a while. Andrea Schneider, a professor at Cardozo Law School, told the BBC that "nobody can be sure of the impact AI will have on the job market," adding that it is "one of the reasons why negotiations for the Hollywood actor strike are difficult."