Without enough production budget for reshoots, the director of upcoming action-thriller fall says the team turned to AI technology to remove over thirty F-bombs to turn its R-rating into a much more box office friendly PG-13, variety reports.
The problem — which has now turned into a handy little marketing hook — apparently emerged when the indie film was picked up by Lionsgate for a cinematic release, where an R-rating (meaning children under the age of 17 cannot see the film without an adult present) would limit its box office potential when it releases in the US on August 12th.
“When we were filming the movie, we didn’t know if we were R or if we were PG-13, so I said the F-word so many times,” one of the film’s stars Virginia Gardner said. “I think [director Scott Mann] wanted to kill me in post when we were trying to get a PG-13 rating.” Thanks to machine learning, the final movie reportedly includes family-friendly lines like: “Now we’re now stuck on this stupid freaking tower in the middle of freaking nowhere.”
variety reports that the swaps were made possible thanks to the film’s director Scott Mann coincidentally serving as co-CEO of Flawless, a company that specializes in using its TrueSync AI technology to translate films between different languages. Its technology is designed to offer “seamless” lip-sync that make it appear as though the film’s original actors are speaking and performing in an entirely different language.
“For a movie like this, we can’t reshoot it. We’re not a big tentpole… we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the time, more than anything else,” Mann said in an interview. The film was shot with IMAX cameras in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California on a modest production budget of just $3 million, meaning that reshoots would have cost time and money that simply wasn’t available. “What really saved this movie and brought it into a wider audience was technology,” Mann said. variety reports the virtual redubs were completed in under two weeks.
Although altering a movie before its original release generally isn’t as controversial as edits made once it’s already in cinemas (*cough* Maclunkey), it always feels like a shame when a director’s original vision doesn’t get a public release. And a small-ish indie movie like fall seems unlikely to see an uncensored director’s cut released after its initial cinematic run.
While fall used AI to change individual words, there are hopes that machine learning could allow entire movies to be made available seamlessly in different languages, without the telltale lip-sync issues that make current dubbing efforts such an eyesore.
In 2020, Polish movie The Champion became the first movie to be entirely virtually redubbed into another language (English), which it did thanks to technology from Tel Aviv-based startup Adapt Entertainment. VFX-focused YouTube channel Corridor Crew did a breakdown of the technology in a video you can watch below (starting at roughly the 10 minute mark).