Disney caught using digital actor replacements

Prom Pact poster
(Image credit: Future/Disney)

AI-based controversies are becoming increasingly commonplace in 2023, with brands big and small facing backlashes for using artificially generated assets in their content. One of the biggest is Disney, which is facing not one, but two AI art debacles in a single week.

Hot on the heels of the drama surrounding the new Loki poster comes claims that Disney is inserting digital scans of background actors in its films. This is a point of particular contention right now, with the recent SAG-AFTRA strike spurred on in part by concerns about digital replicas. And, yeah, it doesn't look good.

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According to DiscussingFilm, Disney's new film, Prom Pact, features the digital likeness of several background actors, used without payment or permission. A particular clip has gone viral on social media (below), featuring some seriously dead-behind-the-eyes extras who somehow manage to look scarier than the people in Gran Turismo 7.

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"Doing this also cheapens the work of the actual actors in the movie. Prom Pact is fun as HELL... but Disney had to disrespect the artists (right in the damn frame) by not paying actors," one X user comments, while another adds, "I do not believe that this VFX work cost less money than just hiring a background actor for a day. With that outcome!?"

Indeed, looking at the footage, it's hard to argue against the fact that the scene would look much, much better with real actors. AI image generation might have come a long way in one year, but it still doesn't look anywhere near as good as, you know, a real face. With so many incredible deepfakes out there, was a company as deep-pocketed as Disney really unable to create something a little less uncanny valley? 

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.