Toys 'R' Us uses OpenAI's Sora to make a brand film about its origin story and it’s horrifying

The AI-generated short will make you wish you were never a Toys 'R' Us kid.

Toys 'R' Us

The rise of artificial intelligence in our media and entertainment industries has raised a lot of concerns about programs like Open Al’s text-to-video maker Sora replacing the artistic endeavors and aspirations of humans. If those AI made movies are anything like a new brand film about the Toys 'R' Us toy store chain's origin story, the only thing we’ll have to fear is watching them.

Toys ‘R’ Us’s current owner WHP Global worked with the Emmy nominated creative agency Native Foreign to create a short brand film called The Origin of Toys ‘R’ Us using OpenAI’s text-to-video creator Sora. The film premiered at the 2024 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and can currently be viewed on the toy retailer’s website.

The Origin of Toys ‘R’ Us is only a little over a minute long but it’s a mix of confusing and eerie. The film features the young version of the toy store chain’s founder Charles Lazarus coming up with the idea for his signature retail creation and its giraffe mascot Geoffrey but almost the entire thing takes place in some kind of cosmic fever dream. It’s like someone tried to take the hollow behavior of M3GAN, dressed her up like Opie Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show and let it loose in the remnants of a toy store that blew up near the edge of the universe.

In the movie, Mini-Charles is a starry eyed kid hanging out in a bicycle shop owned by his father who looks like a cross between Billy Eichner and John Denver. Little Charlie falls asleep and has a weird dream about some of kind of Dr. Seuss planetarium where every kind of generic toy you can dream of sits on shelves and floats above his head. This magical place is where he meets Geoffrey the giraffe, the store’s iconic mascot, that looks like Sona used a different AI to generate it.

The film leaves out the part where Lazarus wakes up in an emergency room after accidentally doing “all the mushrooms” that caused him to have his retail fever dream.

Sora is a generative AI model that creates “realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions,” according to the OpenAI website. OpenAI premiered its video generating model in February. Sora can generate videos that are about a minute long from text prompts. It’s not available to the public yet.

The current state of Toys ‘R’ Us isn’t as rosy as its brand film makes it out to be. The toy store chain filed for bankruptcy in 2018 closing all of its stores in one fell swoop. The acquisition firm WHP Global took over the brand’s parent company Tru Kids Inc. in 2021. Two years later, the firm announced plans to expand the toy store brand with new locations in airports and cruise ships starting with a location in Dallas-Fort Worth international Airport and locations of the department store chain Macy’s.