The Prince Charles Cinema in London canceled the world premiere of “The Last Screenwriter” after receiving complaints over the use of ChatGPT to write the film’s script.

Swiss director Peter Luisi employed the generative artificial intelligence chatbot to write the film and gave the AI the screenwriting credit. Aptly enough for a script composed by an AI, “The Last Screenwriter” is about a famous screenwriter dealing with an AI scriptwriter named “ChatGPT 4.0,” outperforming him and somehow understanding humanity better than the actual human.

Luisi produced the screenplay through a series of prompts to ChatGPT, starting by asking it to “write a plot to a feature-length film where a screenwriter realizes he is less good than artificial intelligence in writing.” He followed up with the AI by asking it to compose outlines and scenes, as well as name the movie’s characters. With some editing, the script was complete. 

The movie’s press kit even includes a statement from ‘the screenwriter,’ who comes off as very proud of the screenplay.

“As the screenwriter of 'The Last Screenwriter,' I am excited to bring this thought-provoking story to life on the page,” ChatGPT is quoted as stating. “At its core, the film explores the intersection between technology and human creativity, and asks the question: can machines truly replace the human experience when it comes to art and storytelling?”

That almost sounds too human.

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However, just before the premiere, the cinema canceled the event, citing a deluge of audience complaints. While trying to avoid this specific controversy, the theater did make a point about the question of AI in entertainment being a larger issue than just this one film and one theater’s policy. 

“The feedback we received over the last 24hrs once we advertised the film has highlighted the strong concern held by many of our audience on the use of AI in place of a writer which speaks to a wider issue within the industry,” the Prince Charles wrote in its statement. 

Proponents of AI in entertainment say it can offer innovative solutions and new perspectives. However, many worry about what it might mean for creative employment and even the future of storytelling.

Generative AI and its uses were at the core of the recent writer and screen actor union strikes, and both settlements addressed how companies should approach the technology. Even so, it’s not likely to be a settled issue when the technology itself is evolving so rapidly.

Don't cry for ChatGPT. Director Luisi still held a family and friends screens. Plus, there are plans to release the movie for free online on June 27 and post the screenplay and how it was created by ChatGPT.

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