Tim Burton Slams AI Recreations of His Work: “It’s Like a Robot Taking Your Humanity”

Tim Burton is joining the masses of fellow filmmakers who have a bone to pick with artificial intelligence, after a “disturbing” July 2023 Buzzfeed article used AI to replicate his distinct animation style on classic Disney characters.

“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters,” Burton recalled in a new interview with The Independent. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”

The article in question included illustrations such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid surrounded by some sinister-looking sea creatures; Aurora from Sleeping Beauty snoozing with stitches in her face; a strung-out looking Scar from The Lion King; and Snow White with more than seven creepy-looking dwarfs.

“What it does is it sucks something from you,” Burton continued, adding that drawing is “a therapeutic thing” for him. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”

Earlier this year, Buzzfeed also used AI to “Wes Anderson-ize” Disney characters. Anderson and Burton’s peers like James Cameron and Charlie Kaufman have recently shared some less-than-complimentary thoughts on AI in Hollywood, a particularly hot-button topic in the wake of the ongoing WGA strike.

Meanwhile, Burton is in production on his star-studded Beetlejuice sequel, though those strikes have forced him to pause production. Burton told The Independent that he has only a day and half left of filming.