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The ‘Wes Anderson directs Star Wars’ AI art fad has its first full movie trailer

The Galactic Menagerie: A Star Wars Story is dividing Star Wars fans — and Wes Anderson fans

Tasha Robinson leads Polygon’s movie coverage. She’s covered film, TV, books, and more for 20 years, including at The A.V. Club, The Dissolve, and The Verge.

Wes Anderson’s aesthetic seems to have fully colonized the minds of people experimenting with AI art generation. Back in December, users of the AI artbot Midjourney went viral on social media with a lengthy series of images imagining movies from Alien to The Shining to Gremlins, as directed by Wes Anderson. Now, the self-described “bunch a goofballs” at the Curious Refuge course-development website have taken that idea to the next step by creating an entire trailer for a theoretical Wes Anderson Star Wars movie, The Galactic Menagerie: A Star Wars Story.

The trailer itself is a fairly crude step up from the original images imagining Wes Anderson’s Star Wars: The movement here is minimal, and it’s mostly just a collection of the same kind of stills that took off in December. Once again, though, Anderson’s visual style proves a perfect target for this kind of pastiche, because his own movies actually often do take this kind of approach, with fixed images or lists of cast members. (Just look at how many of the shots in the trailer for his upcoming Asteroid City are almost still images — although his trailers do typically feature a lot more dialogue than the ersatz Star Wars trailer.)

But the Curious Refuge trailer does represent a step up in ambition for AI art creators, and it suggests the next steps in a rapidly changing field that seems to be generating almost daily controversies and confusion. Significant legal questions have risen around AI art, with already filing a class-action suit against AI artbot developers, and the U.S. Copyright Office declaring that AI art can’t be copyrighted — so anyone could potentially take these pastiches and claim or use them as their own. The step up from individual images to movie trailers might be a different story, since the editing and voiceover involved in a trailer suggests the “human authorship” that the Copyright Office found lacking in individual images.

Just being able to copyright a video doesn’t necessarily mean profiting from it, though. Social-media reactions to the Galactic Menagerie trailer have been decidedly mixed, with some responses praising the ideas, images, and especially the fantasy casting, while others have dismissed it as proof that AI isn’t replacing real writers and directors anytime soon.

This isn’t the first full “in the style of Wes Anderson” trailer: YouTube creators have been making similar projects for years, without the benefit of AI art. Anderson’s distinctive deadpan line delivery, pastel color palettes, specific fonts in a distinctive bright yellow, and precision-focused set decoration have made him a favorite target for “what if” movie pastiches for the last decade, from re-edit artists to original content creators to Saturday Night Live.

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