Apple Doesn’t Allow Movie Villains to Use iPhones, Says Knives Out Director Rian Johnson

“Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that’s supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now.”

Apple Doesn’t Allow Movie Villains to Use iPhones, Says Knives Out Director Rian Johnson

Photo Credit: Claire Folger/Lionsgate

Wait, so how does he explain its use by an alt-right Internet troll?

  • Johnson revealed this during a scene breakdown of Knives Out
  • Earlier news reports, as far back as 2002, have talked about this
  • Apple not the only brand to go to such lengths to control its image

Apple loves having its products — the iPhone, the iPad, or the MacBook — in movies and TV shows, but it won't let villains or bad guys be seen with them, according to Rian Johnson, the writer-director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Knives Out. Johnson let slip the crucial bit of information during a scene-breakdown video of Knives Out, and then joked that his Hollywood colleagues would like to kill him for revealing that.

In a YouTube video published Tuesday by Vanity Fair, Johnson (at the 3-minute mark) said: “Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but — and this is very pivotal — if you're ever watching a mystery movie, bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” and then added with a chuckle: “Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now.”

Johnson stumbled upon it while discussing the will reading scene from his murder mystery whodunnit Knives Out, in which Jamie Lee Curtis' real estate mogul character, Linda Drysdale, can be seen holding an iPhone. He initially mused if he “should say this or not […] because it's gonna screw me on the next mystery movie that I write.” That will be the sequel to Knives Out, officially greenlit earlier in February. Though given Johnson's penchant for subversion, you can expect him to get around it.

Apple's strict control of its brand image in entertainment is a confirmation of what has been reported multiple times in the past. According to MacRumours, Apple says that its products should be seen “in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favourably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc.” Last year, The New York Times said Apple was worried how its devices would be viewed in Apple TV+ content.

But this isn't anything new. An eighteen-year-old Wired piece talks about how the Kiefer Sutherland-starrer action series 24 always had Macs for the heroes, and Windows PCs for the villains.

Of course, this isn't a strictly Apple thing. The Guardian pointed out that both Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz had no interest in being seen in the slums of Slumdog Millionaire. Filmmakers had to erase the Coke label in post-production, while Mercedes was happy to retain the parts where its cars were seen in an upscale, rich-people environment.


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Further reading: Apple, iPhone, Knives Out, Rian Johnson
Akhil Arora covers entertainment for Gadgets 360, interviewing stars such as Christian Bale and Anurag Kashyap, covering series premieres, product and service launches across the globe, and looking at American blockbusters and Indian dramas from a global socio-political and feminist perspective. As a Rotten Tomatoes-certified film critic, Akhil has reviewed over 150 movies and TV shows in over half a decade at Gadgets 360. When he is not completely caught up with new film and TV releases, Akhil ...More
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