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Did Bruce Willis sell his image rights to a deepfake company?

While deepfake technology is still being developed, it does present several opportunities for the future of movies.

Bruce Willis in a suit on a purple background
Image: KnowTechie

Bruce Willis announced his diagnosis of language and communication disorder, aphasia, in March this year, signaling the end of his 45-year acting career.

However, when news came out last month that the actor’s face had been duplicated by US-based deepfake company, Deepcake, the question arose of whether this was the end of Willis’ acting career. 

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to create realistic videos.

Although it is still very much in the early stages of development, it is being used to mimic celebrities and other well-known people and is getting more realistic. 

Bruce Willis deepfake next to another actor
Image: KnowTechie

Deepcake had used this technology to create Willis’ ‘digital twin,’ which appeared in a phone commercial for a Russian telecom company, MegaFon.

Rumor has it that engineers had used 34,000 images of Willis’ face from his movies, ‘Die Hard‘ and ‘Fifth Element,’ in their neural network to create a 4K ultra-realistic deepfake of the actor. 

In a statement on Deepcake’s website, Willis had said, “I liked the precision with which my character turned out. It’s a mini-movie in my usual action-comedy genre. For me, it is a great opportunity to go back in time.”

However, although the actor has been open about his interest in the technology and its possibilities, it has recently been contested whether or not Willis has sold his image rights to the company.

Since then, the company responded, “Bruce Willis didn’t sell any rights to us simply because it’s not possible for us to have them in the first place.” 

While deepfake technology is still in its early stages, it does present several opportunities for the future of movies

Bruce Willis close up holding a lighter from the movie Die Hard
Image: Fox

Furthermore, a representative for Willis denied reports that he had a partnership or agreement with Deepcake. And its possibility in recent weeks, whether or not he has sold has been contested.=

Actors who have passed could be brought back to life with deepfake technology and used in movies. It would also be possible for deepfakes to be used in place of living actors, which could reduce budgets. 

There are numerous potential use cases for deepfake technology in movies, such as changing the lines in a script.

The usual process would be to re-shoot, which is often an expensive affair. However, deepfake technology could replace the original performance of a particular line or scene.

Another potential use case could be to put the deepfakes of current stars into past movies and vice versa. 

We have yet to see how deepfakes will be used in Hollywood movies and advertising. However, Deepcake and other deepfake companies are giving us a glimpse of what to expect.

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Michael Peres (Mikey Peres) is an entertainment journalist, software engineer, and author, best known for founding various technology, media, and news startups. Peres leverages over a decade of engineering and leadership experience to advise individuals and companies towards developing the mindset to build and scale successful businesses.

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