London cinema praised for scrapping AI-written film after public backlash

London cinema praised for scrapping AI-written film after public backlash

A cinema in central London has been praised for cancelling its screening of a film written using artificial intelligence a day after it was announced, following intense public criticism.

The Prince Charles Cinema in Soho was scheduled to host the premiere of The Last Screenwriter, which was penned by ChatGPT, on 23 June (Sunday). This listing raised concerns among filmgoers about “the use of AI in place of a writer”.

The Last Screenwriter follows a character called Jack who fears for his job after discovering an AI script writing programme. When Jack experiments with the software, he begins to realise it matches his own writing skill and even surpasses his ability to empathise with others.

In a statement released on Tuesday (18 June), The Prince Charles Cinema said it would no longer be screening The Last Screenwriter due to its customer’s concerns about the film.

It read: “Yesterday we posted about a private hire event taking place this coming weekend which featured a project whose script had been written by AI. ⁠

“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.⁠

“As a result of this, we have decided NOT to go ahead with the hire.⁠ Our decision is rooted in our passion for movies and listening to those who support what we do.”

Prince Charles Cinema customers were quick to praise the establishment for its decision.

“Good decision. As an independent cinema this is the stance you should be taking with industry issues,” one person wrote. “This is why I love this cinema!” another person added.

“Love to see this. Thank you for listening to your audience,” a third fan said.

The use of AI within the arts is a tense discussion point, with hundreds of thousands of actors supporting the strike by the US actors’ union Sag-Aftra last year which brought Hollywood to a standstill over a series of issues, including the unregulated use of AI.

In August, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman laid into the Hollywood system, saying the Writers’ Guild’s “AI issue” is broadened by the fact that “writers have been trained to eat and make the garbage too.

“As long as they are in that arena making that s***, then you might as well have AI do it.”

Meanwhile, actor Brian Cox identified artificial intelligence (AI) as the entity we “should really be fighting against” as he voiced his support for his fellow actors and writers.

Cox recalled his own recent appearance on a programme in which he was “given a list of things that artificial intelligence Brian Cox was going to say”.

“The artificially intelligent Brian Cox was going to do animal impersonations. I’ve never done a f***ing animal impersonation in my life and I wouldn’t know where to f***ing begin. This was really interesting, this stuff that was coming off AI about me and I thought, this is weird and really a little scary,” he said.

“Now this is going to happen to everybody, nobody’s exempt in this. If you do a performance, if you’re on a film, on a movie, on a TV show, that’s where they’ll get you and that’s what we have to stop.”