Talk to most movie directors and they’ll tell you they have little say in what goes out in the trailers for their movies. Those calls are made by editing houses and executives but it seems that artificial intelligence may be included in these trailer assemblies as well. At least for 20th Century Fox.
The movie studio is currently using A.I. to make data collections on movie trailers to see how the audience responds. According to The Verge, Fox has been testing this technology out in a report they released last month on the trailer for “Logan,” 2017’s Wolverine solo film. The system is being called Merlin and apparently functions as “an experimental movie attendance prediction and recommendation system.” Based on frames from the trailer, the system picks out certain frames and objects to gauge what correlates between audience attendance and frequently seen elements. And according to the data they extracted from the trailer for “Logan,” the most common element is…trees.
Odd, but it’s not so much just the elements but the sequencing of them as well:
Temporal sequencing (for example, a long shot of an object versus intermittent short shots) can convey information about the movie type, the movie plot, the roles of the main characters, and the filmmakers’ cinematographic choices. When combined with historical customer data, sequencing analysis can be used to create predictions of customer behavior.
Surprisingly, there’s some correlation and accurate predictions from Merlin as seen in the data below:
While Merlin is far from perfect, the correlations it has made may make it a viable system for assembling future trailers. While this may sound cold and rather bizarre to rely on computer-calculated data for determining trailers, these promos are already out of the hands of the creators so it’s not a stretch for studios to rely on this method.