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Flop or not? ScriptBook AI predicts which movies will be box-office bombs

When you consider the frankly bonkers amount of money that is spent on bringing Hollywood movies to theaters, it’s somewhat surprising to hear that the number of people involved in the decision-making process is still relatively small. Sure, there are a few highly paid execs in the mix and reshoots are an option if a test audience reacts badly, but it’s still basically a multimillion dollar crapshoot based on a few people’s personal preferences.

If your response to this is “Can’t we just hand it over to a robot to decide?” then you may be about to get your wish, courtesy of a new automated script picker startup named ScriptBook and its Script2Screen software. And it swears that not all the movies it picks will be about the triumph of the machine revolution.

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“The Script2Screen solution is an AI-based assessment that indicates the commercial and critical success [of a project], along with insights on the storyline, target demographics, market positioning, distribution parameters [and more] prior to any made costs,” ScriptBook CEO Nadira Azermai told Digital Trends. “The only input it requires from the user is the upload of a script. The added value of our technology lies in the improvement on the current, human decision-making process throughout the spectrum from script to screen; limiting false decision-making while maximizing the potential for commercial and critical success.”

Massive Hollywood hits can be unpredictable, of course, largely due to the fact that there is no precedent for the kinds of Avatar-size hits which obliterate existing box office records.

To that end, ScriptBook’s work focuses more on “turkey shooting” by singling out the scripts which absolutely shouldn’t make it into production. Since major studios have been brought down by misplaced faith in certain movie flops, ScriptBook could serve a valuable role in this capacity.

A sample of one of the company’s reports.

“We performed an impact study on a slate of American productions between 2014 and 2016,” Azermai continued. “With the script as the only input, our intelligent solution gave a green light to a big share of the movies that were indeed profitable at the U.S. box office. Our intelligent solution was [also] highly effective in eliminating those films that were falsely greenlit by studios and production companies. This means that our solution increases total attainable profit potential, by preventing production of most value-destructing titles.”

Studios that work with ScriptBook can submit scripts online. Once a script has been received, it is processed by the system and analysis sent out within 48 hours. At present, Azermai said that ScriptBook is being put through its paces by a number of entertainment companies in the U.S. and Europe, although “due to non-disclosure agreements we cannot share this information.”

While it’s not the only company to be exploring this potentially lucrative area (a similar startup named Epagogix in the U.K. was profiled by none other than Malcolm Gladwell a few years back), it’s definitely intriguing to hear about what ScriptBook is up to. Between automated script generation, CGI actors and, now, robot movie execs, the movie industry of 2027 promises to look very different to the one of 2017.