Tyler Perry Halts $800M Studio Expansion in Response to OpenAI’s Sora, Raises Concerns About AI’s Impact on Film Industry Jobs

In response to the unveiling of OpenAI’s Sora on Feb. 15, billionaire actor, filmmaker, and studio owner Tyler Perry has decided to pause its $800 million Tyler Perry Studios expansion project in Atlanta. Perry expressed astonishment at Sora’s capabilities and highlighted concerns about the potential impact of artificial intelligence on jobs in the film industry.

Tyler Perry, BET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 05: Tyler Perry attends the “Don’t Look Up” World Premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 05, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Netflix)

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

Thanks to advancements in AI, namely Sora, studios like the ones Perry owns might be able to eliminate the need to travel to physical locations or construct sets for their productions.

However, eliminating traveling and set construction also means that technology will undoubtedly impact labor and people’s livelihood.

Perry Puts on the Breaks

“I think it’s going to be a major game-changer, because if you could spend a fraction of the cost to do a pilot that would’ve cost $15 [million], $20 million or even $35 million if you’re looking at HBO, of course the bottom line of those companies would be to go the route of lesser costs,” Perry said. “So I am very, very concerned that in the near future, a lot of jobs are going to be lost. I really, really feel that very strongly.”

Perry said he feels there need to be a collective effort within the entertainment industry and government to address the challenges posed by AI, emphasizing the need for regulations and protections to safeguard jobs and livelihoods. He fears that without proactive measures, the industry may witness significant job losses and urges a unified approach to ensure the well-being of workers affected by AI-driven changes.

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

However, The Hollywood Reporter noted that the concerns about the technology have not stopped him from using the technology himself, having admitted that he “used AI in two films that are going to be announced soon.”

He thinks AI can generate cinematic video outputs from text inputs and be useful in utilizing its streamlined processes for makeup applications.

As Finurah previously reported, Perry has a self-funded, 330-acre studio in Atlanta that is estimated to be worth $280 million at the time of reporting and is twice the size of the storied Warner Bros. backlot in Burbank, Calif.

Perry’s studio, located on the former Fort McPherson Army base, in 2015, was officially opened in 2019.

It was reported that the billionaire actor paid $30 million for the property, which includes 12 sound stages, a backlot, and a water tank. It has also been used to film several major Hollywood movies, including “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Coming 2 America.”

The $800 million expansion estimate is the sum of the cost of Perry’s expenses acquiring more land and transforming an Army base into a state-of-the-art studio.

“I have been watching AI very closely and watching the advancements very closely. I was in the middle of, and have been planning for the last four years, about an $800 million expansion at the studio, which would’ve increased the backlot a tremendous size, we were adding 12 more soundstages. All of that is currently and indefinitely on hold because of Sora and what I’m seeing. 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,” Perry said.

He had already paid $8.4 million for an additional 37 acres of Fort McPherson and had to file seven work permits for new sound stages and additional office space on the property.

Perry’s concerns about the prevalence of AI and its impact on employment are echoed by recent reports.

According to CBS, AI ranks as the seventh-highest contributor to job losses, with about 4,000 positions attributed to AI automation in a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas released in May 2023. The report accounted for approximately 5 percent of all jobs lost during that period.

The AI industry’s projected value surpassing $1 trillion is driven by notable technological advancements, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot. The inclusion of AI in the Challenger report notes the growing influence of AI-driven automation in the workforce.

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