Why Do AI-Created Fake Film Trailers Scare Us So Much?

An exploration into how these AI fan-made trailers were created, and what they might mean for the future.Credit: Curious Refuge
And why you might want to learn how they’re made.

On a quiet Friday morning nearly a month ago, a video was uploaded to the several social media pages owned by Curious Refuge which—in a matter of hours really—set the internet ablaze with both fanfare and vitriol. The first video was titled Star Wars by Wes Anderson Trailer | The Galactic Menagerie and was described as “a whimsical and visually stunning fan-made fake trailer that reimagines the classic Star Wars universe through the eccentric lens of Wes Anderson.”

On paper, this might sound like a fun and mostly harmless thing to put on the internet. People love Star Wars (for the most part), and people love Wes Anderson (for the most part). And (for the most part) people love fan-made trailers and video homages, too.

What people don’t seem to really like today (and perhaps for good reason) is artificial intelligence, which is what is ultimately at the heart of these videos.

So, let’s explore The Galactic Menagerie (and its subsequent follow-up Lord of the Rings/Wes Anderson mash-up “The Whimsical Fellowship") to see how these fan-made, AI-powered trailers were created and perhaps key in on why they excite and frighten us so much.

The Galactic Menagerie of Fan Reactions

Starting with the video which kicked everything off, The Galactic Menagerie, aka a Star Wars by Wes Anderson trailer, currently has over 2 million views and thousands of comments on YouTube. 

And I’ll note the majority of those chiming in on YouTube are mostly positive about the video and how it was created. However, the darker side of the internet (AKA Twitter) was less giddy to see this fan-made trailer making its rounds mostly through credited re-shares.

For whatever reason, there became a certain discourse on Twitter as to whether these AI-powered fan-made trailers were “good” or “bad” based on intentions that most probably didn’t line up with what was originally put into them. Despite how they may appear, AI film mash-ups are not coming to a theater near you anytime soon. Even if they’re starting to pop up more and more.

But that “anytime soon” part might be what scares people the most because, in theory, if a fan can make a trailer in a matter of hours and using AI tools readily available to the public today, who’s to say a more sophisticated version couldn’t be produced by a studio to actually make a film (or just content) like this happen tomorrow.

How These AI Mash-up Trailers Are Made

Maybe, the best way to understand any fears in regard to these AI trailers is to first understand how they were made. In an interview with School of Motion, creator Caleb Ward of Curious Refuge fills in all of the details about how he used AI tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, D-ID, and Eleven Labs to bring these trailers to life. Check out some examples below:

If you’d like to really learn more, Ward is actually offering an AI Filmmaking course through Curious Refuge, which promises to be the world’s first boot camp for AI filmmaking and will cover the various aspects of the production process from prompt engineering to animation and movement—all of which you can check out on the Curious Refuge site

We even covered filmmaker Paul Trillo and his workflow for creating an incredible AI-generated film.

The Pros and Cons of AI Art

Ultimately though, as both videos have now racked up almost 5 million views together on YouTube alone, it’s hard to imagine a world now where more of these aren’t going to be popping up more and more often now. On the one hand, it’s a wonder that these haven’t been coming out already, and if you’d like to stay ahead of the curve on AI it’s more to your benefit to learn this technology than simply rail against it.

On the other hand, though, there are elements to these that are undoubtedly scary and worth every bit of suspicious caution. Luckily though, the internet will undoubtedly do its job and keep these things in their place as much as possible. Leaving creators to decide how they might want to move forward with their AI and fan-made projects on their own.

How do you feel about these AI-powered fan-made trailers though? Any interested in learning the ins and outs of making your own? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!     

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For entertainment? Maybe. I reject the premise of “get on board or get left behind,” especially for artists. Since not all entertainment is art, there may be space for ai, however, considering the degree to which this will shape culture and society, isn’t it naive to assume that all progress is good progress? At the risk of presenting this as a reductio ad absurdism comparison, that’s what happened with the atom bomb. And we’re making a movie about that! (Excellent example of art reflecting on the consequences of our broken humanity) Certainly, the democratizing of film has been an extraordinary benefit to those of us making art outside of the Hollywood system and even those within. But, desiring human intelligence to guide the formation of culture, flawed as it may be, should not be reduced to the pejorative connotations the phrase “railing against ai” might invoke. We have the ability to actively introspect, moralize, and consider ethical quandaries in a way that ai cannot (at the moment). Furthermore (yes I can feel my own pretentious ego) artists have historically been at the forefront of human progress, speaking truth to power, and giving a voice to the marginalized. So shouldn’t our suspicions of this industry shift be taken seriously instead of flippantly brushed off as “get on board or get left behind”? That sounds to me like the writer is positing that the purpose of our humanity is to serve industry, rather than the industry serving humanity. All of this of course at the risk of sounding like a luddite…but I’m nobody, I’ve got very little money, and apparently way too much time on my hands haha. What do y’all think?

May 25, 2023 at 8:12AM


What an amazing teaser to get thousands of filmmakers to sign up for one's AI filmmaking bootcamp.

June 3, 2023 at 9:09PM

Patrick Ortman
I tell stories for money.