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OpenAI courts Hollywood over plans for video generation model Sora

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OpenAI has launched a charm offensive in Hollywood, holding meetings with major studios including Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros Discovery to showcase its video generation technology Sora and allay fears the artificial intelligence model will harm the movie industry.

Chief executive Sam Altman and chief operating officer Brad Lightcap gave presentations to executives from the film industry giants, said multiple people with knowledge of the meetings, which took place in recent days.

Altman and Lightcap showed off Sora, a new generative AI model that can create detailed videos from simple written prompts.

The technology first gained Hollywood’s attention after OpenAI published a selection of videos produced by the model last month. The clips quickly went viral online and have led to debate over the model’s potential impact on the creative industries.

“Sora is causing enormous excitement,” said media analyst Claire Enders. “There is a sense it is going to revolutionise the making of movies and bring down the cost of production and reduce the demand for [computer-generated imagery] very strongly.”

Those involved in the meetings said OpenAI was seeking input from the film bosses on how Sora should be rolled out. Some who watched the demonstrations said they could see how Sora or similar AI products could save time and money on production but added the technology needed further development.

OpenAI’s overtures to the studios come at a delicate moment in Hollywood. Last year’s months-long strikes ended with the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild securing groundbreaking protections from AI in their contracts. This year, contract negotiations are underway with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — and AI is again expected to be a hot-button issue.

Earlier this week, OpenAI released new Sora videos generated by a number of visual artists and directors, including short films, as well as their impressions of the technology. The model will aim to compete with several available text-to-video services from start-ups, including Runway, Pika, and Stability AI. These other services already offer commercial uses for content.

However, Sora has not been widely released. OpenAI has held off announcing a launch date or the circumstances under which it will be available. One person with knowledge of its strategy said the company was deciding how to commercialise the technology. Another person said there were safety steps still to take before the company considered putting Sora into a product.

OpenAI is also working to improve the system. Currently, Sora can only make videos under one minute in length, and its creations have limitations, such as glass bouncing off the floor instead of shattering or adding extra limbs to people and animals.

Some studios appeared open to using Sora in filmmaking or TV production in future, but licensing and partnerships have not yet been discussed, said people involved in the talks.

“There have been no meetings with OpenAI about partnerships,” one studio executive said. “They’ve done demos, just like Apple has been demo-ing the Vision Pro [mixed-reality headset]. They’re trying to get people excited.”

OpenAI has been previewing the model in a “very controlled manner” to “industries that are likely to be impacted first”, said one person close to OpenAI.

Media analyst Enders said the reception from the movie industry had been broadly optimistic on Sora as it is “seen completely as a cost-saving element, rather than impacting the creative ethos of storytelling”.

OpenAI declined to comment.

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