Hellboy: The Crooked Man | Director denies new film used AI for creature design

Ron Perlman as Hellboy
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Hellboy: The Crooked Man has been accused of using generative AI to design its creatures. It hasn’t (but another demon film has).

Feature image: Ron Perlman as Hellboy in Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy, which emphatically didn’t use generative AI.

UPDATE: A previous version of this article was written before the film’s director issued his clarification, in which he stated that producer Jonathan Yunger’s comments were incorrectly attributed to Hellboy: The Crooked Man.

The use of AI is perhaps the most hotly debated subject in the arts today. Only a few weeks ago, we reported that AI was used in Late Night With The Devil to create the inserts seen in the film that follows David Dastmalchian’s talk show host chatting to an actual demon. Many took to social media to condemn the film’s use of it, arguing it took jobs away from real artists. The filmmakers responded with assurances that no one lost a job because of it. 

Love or hate the use of generative AI, its use appears to be growing, with A24 also coming under fire for using AI software to generate a series of posters for Civil War.

Motionpictures.org reported from Berlinale in March that Hellboy: The Crooked Man is the latest film to use the technology after Millennium Pictures CEO, Jonathan Yunger, gave a speech on the use of AI in the film industry, prompting The Crooked Man's director, Brian Taylor, to take to the-website-formerly-known-as-Twitter to push back on the claim.

In his speech, Yunger reportedly noted that he wasn’t a fan of the technology, but the decision to use it came after trying to shoot a demon practically and concluding that it “didn’t look great”. Yunger therefore created a piece of software that would generate the character designs he wanted. 

The original article originally quoted the comments in relation to “a film called Hellboy due out later this year”, leading many outlets, Film Stories included, to connect the dots pointing to The Crooked Man.

“I was able to make 3,000 creature designs in an hour. So now I can start to cherry-pick and edit those and then send it to visual effects,” he told the crowd at the festival. 

Yunger stressed AI would never replace humans, but that people that use AI would end up replacing those who don’t. 

“And that’s why I think it’s important for places like film schools to start to learn how to use these tools and these new technologies to further storytelling,” he said. “The emotion of a human being will never be replaced.”

On The Offering, though, it seems the work of a human being will.

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