Fear of OpenAI’s latest tech has made Tyler Perry halt his $800 million studio project indefinitely

BY Ben Ebuka Oji March 1, 2024 11:31 AM EDT
Media Mogul Tyler Perry
Media Mogul Tyler Perry. Photo Credit: Tyler Perry

Every entrepreneur and businessperson diligently crafts strategies for business growth and sustenance. Although many plans are implemented smoothly, unforeseen events can derail even the most carefully laid-out strategies, potentially causing setbacks beyond anticipation, particularly when they stem from external factors beyond the business’s control.

Such is the recent unforeseen development that, in an instant, has indefinitely halted media icon Tyler Perry’s long-standing business expansion plans, which he had meticulously formulated over the years.

Perry, a leading figure in Hollywood, has put on hold his intended $800 million expansion of his Atlanta studio. For the past four years, Tyler Perry had meticulously planned the multimillion-dollar expansion of his Atlanta studio, aiming to incorporate an additional 12 soundstages into the existing 330-acre property.

The media mogul cited the latest “mind-blowing” advancements in artificial technologies as the reason for indefinitely postponing the project. Perry’s decision follows the debut of OpenAI’s text-to-video model, Sora, on February 15. Although the AI tool has been made available to only a select group of researchers and video creators, its capacity to generate realistic one-minute footage from basic text prompts has sparked widespread amazement.

“All of that is currently and indefinitely on hold because of Sora and what I’m seeing,” Perry said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “I had gotten word over the last year or so that this was coming, but I had no idea until I saw recently the demonstrations of what it’s able to do. It’s shocking to me.”

 “Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind-blowing,” Perry added.

OpenAI, the developer of the groundbreaking ChatGPT chatbot, recently showcased the capabilities of their revolutionary AI, by releasing demonstrations that exhibit photorealistic scenes in response to text prompts. For example, requests for imagery like beautiful, snowy Tokyo city with gorgeous Sakura petals flying through the wind with snowflakes yield impressive results. OpenAI states that Sora can produce one-minute videos while upholding visual fidelity and staying true to the user’s input.

“We’re teaching AI to understand and simulate the physical world in motion, with the goal of training models that help people solve problems that require real-world interaction,” the San Francisco-headquartered company said.

As a business owner, Perry sees the opportunity in these developments, saying, “I no longer would have to travel to locations. If I wanted to be in the snow in Colorado, it’s text. If I wanted to write a scene on the moon, it’s text, and this AI can generate it like nothing. If I wanted to have two people in the living room in the mountains, I don’t have to build a set in the mountains, I don’t have to put a set on my lot. I can sit in an office and do this with a computer, which is shocking to me.”

However, as an employer, fellow actor, and filmmaker, Perry also raised awareness of potential job loss. He expressed strong concerns about the potential impact of technology on labor and emphasized the need for the industry to address AI collectively. Perry highlighted that the advancements showcased by Sora could impact various jobs across the film industry, including those of actors, editors, sound specialists, and transportation crews.

“There’s got to be some sort of regulations in order to protect us. If not, I just don’t see how we survive.”

Perry pointed out an immediate example involving construction workers and contractors who would no longer be needed for his planned studio expansion because “there is no need for it.” He further mentioned his experience with AI, citing its use in his recent two movies where the technology was employed to age his face and reduce the time spent in the makeup chair.

Perry emphasized the necessity of a holistic industry approach to preserve jobs. He stressed that relying solely on one union to negotiate contracts every few years is insufficient. Instead, he advocated for collaboration among all stakeholders to safeguard the future of the industry in light of the unprecedented and rapid changes in the tech industry.