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Script analysis company says computers can be more successful than humans in greenlighting projects

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According to the founder of artificial intelligence outfit ScriptBook , Sony Pictures could have saved a fortune from 2015 to 2017 by using the company’s algorithms instead of human beings to reject or greenlight movies.

In a presentation at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, ScriptBook founder Nadira Azermai said that by analyzing screenplays, ScriptBook retroactively identified as box-office failures 22 out of the 32 Sony movies that lost money in that period, during which Sony released a total of 62 movies.

“If Sony had used our system they could have eliminated 22 movies that failed financially,” said Azermai.

Welcome to the brave new world of AI and machine learning as it applies to Hollywood.

Many see in ScriptBook and similar AI systems the potential to destroy a major part of the film production and distribution ecosystem, displacing script readers and saving much of the money studios spend on test screenings, focus groups and market research.

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At its most basic, ScriptBook, founded in 2015 and based in Antwerp, Belgium, has created a tool that analyzes the text of screenplays to produce financial forecasting, or as Azermai grandly puts it, “Our mission is to revolutionize the business of storytelling by using AI to help producers, distributors, sales agents and financiers assess their risk.”

The cloud-based system is already in use. In 2016 ScriptBook raised $1.4 million in venture capital to accelerate development.

The system works like this: ScriptBook users upload a PDF file of a screenplay into the system. About five minutes later they receive a detailed analysis of the project that, among other things: predicts the MPAA rating, analyzes its characters, detecting the protagonists and antagonists; assesses the emotions of each character; predicts the target audience, including gender and race; and, most importantly, makes box office predictions.

“When we show this to customers, the first question is: How is it even possible to give a script to a computer and somehow it can come up with all these outputs?” said Michiel Ruelens, data scientist at Scriptbook.

The answer, he says, is based on the fast-developing field of machine learning, whereby the software is first instructed by humans, then takes over the learning process and builds huge databases that can be mined at astonishing speed.

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Other pharmacologic effects of beta blockers, however, may actually impede the development of atherosclerosis and thrombogenesis. 29 The overall clinical importance of the lipid-modifying effects of beta blockers remains unclear. Lipid abnormalities should be treated but are not a justification for withholding beta-blocker therapy after myocardial infarction.

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