British Actor John Boyega Tops The AI Bill As Most Bankable Black Superman With Antoine Fuqua Ranks As Favourite Black Director
BREAKOUT STAR REGE-JEAN PAGE SECOND FAVOURITE TO TAKE THE CAPE
Hot on the heels of recent reports that Warner Bros is currently scouting for the first ever Black Superman and Black director, award-winning artificial intelligence (AI) provider, Largo.ai, has put the most hotly speculated contenders under the microscope, revealing which actors and directors are predicated to generate the highest grossing Box Office revenue. The new Superman reboot, currently being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by JJ Abrams, is expected to deliver its script to WB in December and the rumour mill is churning as to who might fill Henry Cavill’s cape as the Man of Steel, arguably the most iconic DC comic character of all time and the embodiment of truth and justice. As the franchise’s highest grossing ever Superman at Box Office1, it’s a pretty big cape to fill. Using cutting-edge AI technology, Largo.ai reveals which of the would-be Supermen have the Krypton-Factor.
Whilst there has long been precedent for a Black Superman in the DC comics with the Barack Obama inspired character of Calvin Ellis, a big-screen vision represents a seismic shift towards a more inclusive multiverse of Superheroes.
Topping the bill with a score of 88.6% is Star Wars icon and Hollywood heavyweight, John Boyega. As one of the best acting talents of his generation, Golden-Globe winning British actor, Boyega, represents the most bankable choice, if a little on the short-side, and could effortlessly lead the franchise. Having candidly voiced his frustration with franchise roles, Boyega has recently moved on to grittier projects such as Steve McQueen’s Small Axe, so the bigger question is whether he’d be game?
From Hollywood heavyweight, to breakout star – thirsty fans of Netflix steamy Shondaland drama, Bridgerton, will delight as its heartthrob Rege-Jean Page swoops in as second favourite AI score of 87.8%. The legendary role of Superman thrust Henry Cavill, at that time relatively unknown, into the super league and their gamble paid off with Cavill going on to net the highest grossing Box Office of all time for the franchise in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.1 So Page could well be on the money for Abrams. With his chiselled jaw and clean-cut sex appeal, his candidacy for the Man of Steel is strong. Page reportedly3 auditioned for the starring role of Superman’s grandfather on the Syfy prequel series Krypton but was turned down by Geoff Johns who was supervising the series, yet he is a highly bankable prospect according to AI. This would also befit the rumour that the film may even be craft as a 20th century period piece.4
Ranking as third favourite with 87.8% is critically acclaimed American actor Jonathan Majors, best known for HBO’s Lovecraft Country, battling tentacled monsters and systemic racism as a muscular hero and nebbish bookworm – a perfectly aligned combination with Superman mythology, guaranteed to have huge audience pull-power. Major’s resemblance to DC comic’s Calvin Ellis is undeniable - but he is currently attached to appear the major villain, the Conqueror in Marvel’s Ant Man and The Wasp in 2023, which could pose as a stumbling block, but he is certainly more than cape-able!
Next up as machine learning’s best suited Superman-successor is populist choice, rumoured to have pitched a new take on Superman to Warner Bros in 2019, Michael B. Jordan with 86.2%. Jordan’s leading-man charisma has been put to great use across several franchises already, from his acclaimed take on Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger to his unexpectedly enduring performance as Creed’s Adonis Creed. The wildly talented Jordan is seemingly tailor-made as a suitor and hasn’t ruled the possibility out according to recent reports. Built like a brick house and voted People’s Sexiest Man Alive 2020, Jordan has the potential to be the best Superman that ever graced the screen.
Also in the top five AI running, predicted to smash Box Office, is American actor Winston Duke with 85.4%, best known for his role as M’Baku in Black Panther and the Avengers franchise. Starring in the films Us and Spenser Confidential, Duke has cemented himself as a box office draw and strong leading man. Standing at 6’5” and weighing 250 pounds, Duke impressive stature suits up well for the role of Superman.
Largo.ai’s scoring system works by creating a DNA footprint of each actor which comprises over 1000 on-screen character attributes, such as character typology, story elements, and cinematographic tones. The system then analyses each of these attributes - weighing up audience reaction by cross-comparing the data against historic films. The system also looks at the actual film character (Superman) and creates another DNA footprint for the character. It then cross compares the actor’s DNA footprint against the characters. In this instance, the software looks for correlation between the two. This is crucial given research and previous projects have found a very high correlation between the success of a movie and the actor/character match rate – such correlation is more important than the popularity of the actor.
According to insiders Warners and DC are committed to hiring a Black director to helm the franchise’s reboot, taking the reins from Zack Snyder who directed the previous three films with huge Box Office success. Largo.ai’s director match system works similarly to the actor matching system. The system creates a DNA and cinematographic profile of a director by analysing the director’s past movies and successes.
Top of the AI predicted bill for best director match is Hollywood heavyweight Antoine Fuqua scoring an impressive 87.5%. Renowned for his action movie credits including Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer film franchise and Training Day, Fuqua undoubtedly has the credentials and experience needed to take on the challenge. He is currently linked to the director role on a fresh adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.
With a favourably matched 85.1% is Ryan Coogler, director of Marvel’s Black Panther, DC’s rival, which claimed the superhero genre’s first-ever Best Picture nomination, and achieve huge Box Office success. Creed, saw Coogler not only direct but also write the screenplay, cementing him as a firm favourite to take on the challenge of the new Superman. His current commitments on Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (due out in 2022), may leave him unable to step into this hotly anticipated role.
Next in line according to Largo.ai is Steven Caple Jr with 79.77%. Writer and director, Caple Jr, made his made his feature directorial debut with 2016’s mystery crime thriller The Land. Caple Jr. is currently in pre-production for an untitled Transformers film with Paramount which may rule him out of the running for the Superman gig. One of the most hotly speculated contenders, J.D Dilliard comes in at a close fourth option with 78.63%. Best known for writing and directing the sci-fi thriller Sleight, Dilliard is also being touted as in the running for Marvel’s new Blade which is expected to enter production later this summer. In fifth position with 65.7%, Shaka King is an established favourite with the studio’s after earning a Best Picture nomination for his second feature Judas and the Black Messiah, meaning Shaka is well placed as a worthy contender.
Sami Arpa, Co-founder and CEO, Largo, said “As a bastion for good, hope and humanity, Superman is one of the most beloved and coveted roles in the DCEU and its fans are deeply passionate guardians of the brand. AI has evolved rapidly in recent years and is now an integral part of successful filmmaking – casting is just one small element AI can support. It’s important to understand that the role of AI in filmmaking is best kept as an assistance tool – helping to quickly provide insights that underpin human instincts rather than replacing them. We’re proud to join the debate and open up the power and possibilities of data-driven storytelling.”
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- Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice highest grossing worldwide Box Office
- Reported in The Hollywood Reporter
CLARK KENT – BLACK SUPERMAN
- John Boyega (88.6%)
- Rege-Jean Page (87.8%)
- Jonathan Majors (84.4%)
- Michael B Jordan (86.2%)
- Winston Duke (84.4%)
- Daniel Kaluuya (83.7%)
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (82.7%)
- Mike Colter (82.2%)
- Leslie Odom Jr. (81.57%)
- Jesse Williams (81.50%)
- Antoine Fuqua (87.5%)
- Ryan Coogler (85.1%)
- Steven Caple Jr (79.7%)
- J.D. Dillard (78.6%)
- Shaka King (65.7%)
- Barry Jenkins (56.9%)
Largo is a Swiss company providing Largo.ai as a data-driven intelligence platform to the audio-visual industry. Largo.AI is able to analyse a film from as early as the script phase and provide insights also at post-production and distribution stages by analysing first video versions of the movie. The company was awarded the best start-up prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival 2019 and was selected as one of Horizon 2020 Top Start-ups in Berlinale. The company was selected by Slush as one of 15 finalist start-ups among 1500 start-ups all around the world. Largo recently raised CHF 750M from private investors and private programs, which brings a total financing of CHF 2.3M since its launch. The company has gained worldwide press coverage in publications such as Variety, Screen International, Indiewire, and 24 Heures.
Founded by computer scientist and film director, Sami Arpa Largo.ai is a Lausanne-based venture, which has analysed over 400,000 films/series, 1,800,000 talents and 59,000 scripts to train cutting-edge AI programmes. The game changing technology can optimise all phases of a film’s lifecycle, from script development and casting through to financing, post-production, marketing and distribution. With over 80% predictive accuracy, Largo estimates it will be able to provide a mix of 10-20 recommendations which can improve Box Office results in aggregate by 10-15%. Because Largo.ai use similar tools to those used by bigger studios and streaming platforms, producers can be one step ahead when financing their projects. By identifying and keeping up with the spread of the audience, they can also negotiate more effectively and avoid losing their rights and revenues when dealing with the streamers. These analytics are also helpful in enabling greater access to other investors and diminishing risk at the earliest possible stage by building the right strategy that can be used for future ventures.
Created in collaboration with the prestigious Swiss engineering university, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Largo.ai offers state-of-the-art, patented technologies developed by leading scientists. The software enables an understanding of the ingredients of a film and predicts the audience reaction and potential revenue, from script level through to rough and fine cut. Through a cognitive pattern understanding system it creates a ‘recipe of ingredients’ together with actionable insights on how to improve audience appeal, increase ROI and minimise risk. This means that not only are larger elements like editing, action, character suitability, genre and music reviewed, but that a host of smaller details are also taken into account, such as the way characters move, how funny they are, their hair colour, or even the objects they use. Country specific insights, where local cultural traits can vary enormously, also enable producers to better allocate marketing and distribution investments.