- The release of The Creator’s trailer during the SAG-AFTRA strike sparked controversy due to its themes that relate to the demands and fears of actors during the strike.
- The trailer for The Creator repurposed footage from the 2020 Beirut explosion, which has been heavily criticized as an insensitive and morally questionable decision.
- The poor decision of using footage from the Beirut explosion in the trailer has overshadowed the outstanding visual effects work showcased in The Creator, creating a shadow that the movie and crew will have to carry.
After directing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Gareth Edwards is back with The Creator, a sci-fi movie that is already proving controversial ahead of its release. Gareth Edwards has become a big name in the sci-fi genre thanks to projects like the independent film Monsters and 2014’s Godzilla, though he might be best known for his time in the Star Wars universe with Rogue One, widely regarded as one of the best Star Wars movies to date. Now, seven years after the release of Rogue One, Edwards is back with another sci-fi movie, which has already been involved in controversy.
Titled The Creator, it takes place in a future where humans and the forces of artificial intelligence are at war. Joshua (John David Washington), a hardened ex-special forces agent is grieving the disappearance of his wife when he’s recruited to locate and kill the Creator, the architect of advanced AI who has now developed a new, mysterious weapon with the power to end the war but also to destroy humanity. However, what Joshua and his team weren’t counting on was this world-ending weapon being an AI in the form of a young child. While this might not seem controversial, The Creator’s trailer was released at a difficult time in Hollywood, and it included controversial footage.
The Creator’s Trailer Release Coincided With The SAG-AFTRA Strike
The Creator has been in development since 2019, with the project officially announced in 2020. Filming for The Creator began in January 2022 and wrapped in May 2022, and due to all the visual effects and more post-production magic needed, a first look at it wasn’t shown until April 2023, at CinemaCon. The first teaser trailer for The Creator was finally released online on May 17, 2023, just three days after the beginning of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. While releasing a trailer for an upcoming movie isn’t among the things that can’t be done during the strike, The Creator’s trailer was pointed out as being released at the worst time given the movie’s themes and the demands and fears that actors are shedding light on during the strike.
Among the causes for the SAG-AFTRA 2023 strike are the lack of agreement on a new contract between the SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), disagreements over streaming residuals, regulation of self-tape auditions, and the studio’s usage of artificial intelligence to scan actors’ faces to generate digital performances, essentially taking their jobs to give them to AI. Among the goals of the SAG-AFTRA strike, then, are streaming revenue share, pay increases, and regulation of the use of artificial intelligence.
Along with the SAG-AFTRA strike, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is also fighting for studios to limit the use of artificial intelligence in the writing process, so it was inevitable to point out the awkward timing of the release of the trailer of a movie about AI and how its use led to horrible consequences. Edwards agreed that the timing was odd (via Deadline), and even joked that he should have chosen 2023 as the time setting for The Creator instead of 2070 given the ongoing events.
The Creator trailer showcases the outstanding visual effects work of the post-production crew, but all that was shadowed by a very questionable decision from the editors. Many social media users pointed out that the trailer for The Creator used footage from the 2020 Beirut explosion and only made a couple of changes to the buildings and the coloring to make it look like a futuristic Los Angeles being destroyed by a nuclear explosion.
On August 4, 2020, an explosion caused by a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon caused major damage across the city, causing about 218 deaths, 7000 injuries, and billions of dollars in property damage. The blast was so strong that it shook the whole country of Lebanon, and it was felt in Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Israel. At the time of writing, it remains unclear which one of the over 10 visual effects companies involved in The Creator was responsible for taking footage of the Beirut tragedy to add to the trailer, and neither Gareth Edwards nor Disney have commented on it.
Of course, this detail in The Creator trailer has sparked many negative reactions on social media, calling it an insensitive and morally questionable decision, though no plans to boycott the movie have emerged so far. The Creator has caught the attention of everyone for the wrong reasons, and if neither Gareth Edwards nor the studio comments on the poor decision of using footage from the Beirut explosion in the trailer, this will be a shadow that the movie and the crew will have to carry for a while.