Machine Learning for Movie Scripts: 7 Reasons AI Is the Future of Screenwriting


Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and rapidly shifting the business landscape.

AI and machine learning (ML) are right at the epicenter of this trend. In fact, they form the very cores of software engines geared toward crunching data.  

The adoption is underway across industry and it fosters process automation. The entertainment and media sector is no exception.

Hollywood has been using tech off- and on-screen for quite some time. Now, it’s time to go a step further and fine-tune various production and marketing tasks.

Namely, studios have realized data processing can produce actionable insights and inform key creative decisions. Machine learning for movie scripts is in our focus because it’s poised to transform screenwriting in years to come.

On paper, this development should spur explosive growth for the whole movie industry. Does this then mean AI is a way to draw in viewers and produce quality storytelling?

Here are seven reasons why this hypothesis rings true.

1. ML Has Already Made a Splash

We probably don’t have to remind you how tech plays a role in creating special effects.

The big news is that a set of other tasks is on the menu now. Some of them we prematurely assumed only humans could perform.  Algorithms have permeated the seventh art with a bang.  

The global spending on ML is on the rise and benefits of early adoption massive.

First off, Giants like Fox employ ML to improve marketing results. They aim to accurately predict movie budgets and allocate funds accordingly. They no longer have to shoot in the dark and risk project disasters.

This means AI facilitates the process of greenlighting projects.

And other studios aren’t strangers to AI and ML tools either. Their executives know data-backed AI easily beats mere gut instinct.

Among other things, one can target people on social media with laser-like precision. The collection of user data gives rise to personalized recommendations systems.

So, why not leverage this marvelous tech for one of the mainstays of storytelling— movie scripts?

2. Tools and Services Abound

Industry practice shows AI is already advanced enough to take on script-related activities.

Nowadays, one can find software vendors specializing in cutting-edge ML solutions. Just take the example of services like Amazon’s Polly and Google’s Text-to-Speech. They convert text into natural-sounding speech.

There’s no shortage of other options for more ambitious ventures. We would highlight algorithmic screenplay services as harbingers of the future.

They harness data in order to construct a written narrative. The goal is to flesh out a robust story structure that has all the necessary nuts and bolts.

These moving parts also include elements that tend to fly under the human radar.

Speaking of which, notice flash-and-bone creative workers aren’t rendered obsolete. If nothing else, they can put a narrative design in place. This layout guides the AI in writing and enables extensive customization and personalization.

Besides that, humans have to feed vast sets of structured data into the platform. This process holds the key to detecting prominent patterns, which brings us to the next point.

3. Thanks to Data, It’s Human Enough

AI and ML are techs rooted in real-world data.

This data often comes in the form of historical information, which serves as a constant reference point. AI analyzes what human screenwriters have created and how the audiences have reacted.

Hence, data pools represent treasure troves of patterns, rules, and storytelling techniques.

AI can, for instance, figure out which words and phrases go well together. It samples lengthy strings of letters and mirrors these formulations in its own writing. Some AIs predict not only phrases but whole paragraphs.

To be clear, this process doesn’t revolve around blatant copy-pasting. ML capacities allow AI to stitch together original sentences. They contain convincing character lines and valid stage instructions, for the most part.

On top of that, some solutions are already designed to account for current and future trends. This opens doors to exciting new opportunities in terms of creating original, compelling stories.

4. A Reliable Predictor of Film Success

Entertaining people is a risky business more often than not.

Most movies lose money and only the selected few end up being blockbuster smashers. The good news is ML-fueled software excels at predicting the success of movie scripts. It can validate the decisions of movie executives.

Recently, we witnessed the rise of innovative online services like ScriptBooks, which allow users to upload their scripts in PDF format. The ML algorithm then analyzes the text and estimates critical and commercial success.

Other startups craft tools for comparing how different actors would fare with the audience. They can also cross-reference and evaluate themes that are popular with audiences.

Finally, we should point out the movie Logan as a nice illustration. The AI tool analyzed the trailer and listed the top predictors of success. Those were: facial hair, car, man, atmosphere, etc.

As you probably know, they were all included in the final product.

5. There’s This Lad Called Benjamin

AI taking over isn’t some dystopian scenario in the making— it’s already happening.

The groundbreaking short movie Sunspring is a telltale sign. It’s a Sci-Fi set in a dark future world. Yes, it was shot by an LA-based director, but it’s written entirely by AI called Benjamin.

Its algorithm harbors a recurring neural network, known as long short-term memory (LSTM). This type of AI is typically tasked with text recognition. But, the truth is Benjamin did much more.

“He” processed dozens of screenplays online and conducted face-swapping and voice-generation. The end result is an original script that works on the screen.  

Many viewers found the story of murder and romance to be entertaining and funny. Alas, there were some impossible stage directions, plot holes, and weird character names.

In other words, we still need to iron out some glitches and imperfections.

6. Sheer Versatility

The beauty of ML is that’s it’s a highly versatile resource that removes the guesswork from the picture.

This is owing to its ability to factors in a multitude of different parameters and indicators.

The list includes target demographics, market conditions, gender parity, distribution networks, etc. Programs also scour scripts with theatrical releases across decades of cinema history.

Likewise, one can put other data sets in and find answers to million-dollar questions.

The point is that subjective decisions of screenwriters sometimes don’t sit right with the audience. This is the main reason why AI and ML are gaining huge traction in Hollywood.

Studios with ample budgets don’t hesitate to invest in tech capacities. It pays rich dividends in the long run. Of course, we’re not yet heading toward a robot-dominated Hollywood.

For now, we expect professional human writers to still govern the process. They may just start doing it more collaboratively with machines.

7. Bottom Line: Its Value is Undeniable

ML-powered AI still isn’t a complete and objective source of screenwriting greatness.

Studios will have to beware of the uncanny valley and produce scripts that actually seem human-made. We’re talking about gripping storytelling that works on a big screen.

That is to say, AI has to emulate a unique writing style and rhythm.  Moreover, it must pick up on nuances such as body language and humor. Not to mention all the format requirements it has to fulfill.

Yet, despite inherent limitations, ML poses an invaluable resource.  It might be able to assess scripts better than humans. This is due to taking into account way more content than us.

Moreover, machine-assisted authoring can streamline the workflow and make your life much easier. It supports and improves your decision-making. At the very least, AI can identify high-performing script elements you need to throw into the mix. 

Considering everything it can do, the introduction of this technology isn’t premature, but overdue. We may as well start adopting it sooner rather than later.

Machine Learning for Movie Scripts: The Future Beckons

Warm human touch and cold machine logic seem like strange bedfellows.

Nevertheless, this combo may usher in the next stage of screenwriting as we know it. No, machine learning for movie scripts is no gimmick or fad. It’s here to stay and rock the movie industry.

The only dilemma is the extent to which it will be applied.

As it is, AI knows us better than we know ourselves. It can extract meaning and insights from data, using them as building blocks for scripts. What is more, with its predictive capability, it reduces the risk of box office flops.

It’s possible to spot money-makers and steer away from financial fizzles. This is a game-changer for Hollywood, at least from a business standpoint.

The time will tell whether it will be able to offer great scripts that speak directly to the audience.

One thing is for certain though. This is just the beginning because the underpinning tech stack is only going to become more potent. In the years to come, we’ll push the boundaries of what’s possible to accomplish off and on-screen. 

Contact us if you seek to utilize AI-driven software and get ahead of the game. Let’s make great things happen together!

Filed Under: Insights