Over the summer, Buzzfeed posted an article of photos that were generated by asking an AI platform to recreate beloved Disney characters in the style of Tim Burton. The results depicted Elsa from “Frozen” and Princess Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty” as if they were the stars of Burton’s stop-motion “Corpse Bride.” The article went viral, but not to the amusement of Burton himself.
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In a recent interview with The Independent, Burton reacted in horror to the AI recreations of his trademark style.
“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters,” Burton said. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
“What it does is it sucks something from you,” he continued. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”
Combining AI with beloved auteurs has become a popular trend on social media. AI-created videos imagining what “Star Wars” or “The Lord of the Rings” might look like if Wes Anderson directed them have also gone viral in recent months. Anderson was asked about these clips during his summer press tour for “Asteroid City,” and he mostly ignores these AI recreations.
“If somebody sends me something like that I’ll immediately erase it and say, ‘Please, sorry, do not send me things of people doing me,’” Anderson said in an interview with The Times of London. “Because I do not want to look at it, thinking, ‘Is that what I do? Is that what I mean?’ I don’t want to see too much of someone else thinking about what I try to be because, God knows, I could then start doing it.”
Burton is currently making the press rounds in support of new art exhibition of his work that is launching at the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Turin next month. Production on his latest feature film, the long-awaited “Beetlejuice 2,” is paused amid the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.