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The Wes Anderson Avatar Trailer & Cast Are Unbelievable

Wes Anderson has always preferred to set his kitsch-core movies here on planet Earth, but a viral, AI-generated video imagines the director taking on a remake of James Cameron's space fantasy film "Avatar." Created by the previously obscure YouTube channel Curious Refuge, the video is a trailer for a fictional Anderson-helmed "Avatar," complete with the likes of Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, and other erstwhile Anderson collaborators.

"In a distant corner of the universe," the opening voiceover declares, "lies an enchanting planet." Shortly, we learn that the movie is not named "Avatar," but rather the more Andersonian "The Peculiar Pandora Expedition." A series of perfectly symmetrical AI-generated shots follow. The vast extraterrestrial landscapes of Pandora are reimagined into twee mountains of pink mushrooms, while an AI version of Adrien Brody notes having discovered "allegorical references to 17th-century colonialism," making plain the subtext of "Avatar" in a way that only Wes Anderson — or AI — would be wont to do.

Generative AI such as that used to create the striking Anderson "Avatar" parody is the topic du-jour in the film and television industry as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes were both precipitated partially by issues around the newly emerging technology. Major studios hope to use AI to draft scripts and scan actors' likenesses, practices the unions have vehemently opposed because of their potential to further undercut their working conditions. However, when it comes to making full-blown movies using nothing but AI, the "Avatar by Wes Anderson" video demonstrates the current technological limitations of so-called artificial intelligence.

Wes Anderson probably doesn't need to worry about AI

The stunning AI videos reimagining famous films directed by Wes Anderson are visually impressive, and they manage to capture key elements of the director's signature style. However, the "Asteroid City" filmmaker shouldn't worry about being replaced by a robot anytime soon. Curious Refuge, the YouTuber responsible for the "Avatar" parody and others including a Wes Anderson "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars," uses simple tech to polish off a few basic AI tricks. That's why he was able to produce and release all three videos within the span of a month.

Caleb Ward, the man behind the viral videos, explained his process in an interview with the YouTube channel School of Motion. Demystified, the process is simple. Ward starts by asking ChatGPT for video ideas. One of the ideas initially suggested by the program was a Wes Anderson "Star Wars" parody, so Ward set to work — or, more accurately, set ChatGPT to work by asking it to write a script for the video. For the shots themselves, Ward used the AI image generation program MidJourney, then added slight animation to them with the AI program D-ID. For the voiceover, he used ElevenLabs' AI text-to-speech software. Finally, he added some polish the old-fashioned way by editing it all into a finished video. He replicated that process twice more with his "Lord of the Rings" and "Avatar" parodies.

While these parodies prove how capable current, consumer-grade AI tools have become, they are still parodies. Creating a fully original film with AI would require significantly more work from a human being, relegating AI programs to mere tools. Of course, AI has already proliferated throughout the film industry in applications that are far more beneficial to artists, such as AI masking tools for VFX work.