According to director Rian Johnson, there’s an easy way to tell heroes and villains apart at the movies: look at what kind of phone they’re using.
If a character is using an
Stringent product placement guidelines from the tech giant place tight restrictions on who can use an iPhone on screen – not great for hiding a killer in a mystery.
‘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
Rian Johnson said that due to Apple product placement rules, only ‘good’ characters could be filmed using the company’s devices in Knives Out. Pictured: Jamie Lee Curtis as Linda Drysdale who because she is holding an iPhone ‘can’t be the villian’
Brand tracking company Concave found there was 13 minutes of air time for Apple products in the second season of Nicole Kidman (pictured here with an iPhone) fronted Big Little Lies
Apple’s Phil Schiller said the company ‘would love to see our products used by the stars,’ but the device has to be a hero. In A Star is Born Lady Gaga’s best friend Ramon (Anthony Ramos) supports the aspiring singer-songwriter and is seen clearly using an iPhone in the movie
‘I don’t know if I should say this or not,’ said Johnson – whose credits include Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper and Knives Out.
‘Not because it’s like lascivious or something, but because it’s going to screw me on the next mystery I write.’
‘But forget it, I’ll say it, it’s very interesting. 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,’ he added.
Johnson cites a key scene in his whodunnit Knives Out, where Linda Drysdale, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, holds an iPhone.
In the scene a will reading is happening following the murder of a rich novelist (Christopher Plummer) and Curtis’s character is seen holding an iPhone – meaning there is no way she could be the killer as Apple rules forbid it.
Johnson let the insider secret out as he was taking viewers through the anatomy of a scene in the movie – which also stars Daniel Craig and Toni Collette.
Over the last decade, Apple had more product placements in studio movies than any other brand but the company always wants its products to ‘be the hero’.
Apple devices have featured in Sex and the City, The Family Guy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fast Five, and countless other television shows and movies.
According to brand tracking company Concave an Apple product appears in one form or another in most TV shows taking place in the modern world.
They found there was 13 minutes of air time for Apple in the second season of Nicole Kidman fronted Big Little Lies also staring Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep.
Director Rian Johnson (pictured) let slip the secret about Apple products while discussing his new movie Knives Out – he said every ‘filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that’s supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now’
Johnson joked that knowing Apple’s rules on product placement could give potentially give away the endings in mystery movies where the true identity of the villain hasn’t been revealed, but might become obvious based on what kind of phone they’re holding
In 2012, Apple’s Phil Schiller said the company’s philosophy is to always show ‘the product as hero’ – for example in The Commuter, Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is the main character and the ‘hero’ so uses an iPhone throughout
Apple says the product must be ‘shown only in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favourably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc.’ In What’s Your Number the main character (Anna Faris) tries to find love by contacting people she’s previously dated
In 2012, Apple’s Phil Schiller said the company ‘would love to see our products used by the stars,’ but the philosophy would always be to show ‘the product as hero.’
In guidelines on how its products should be depicted by developers promoting an app or accessory, Apple says the product must be ‘shown only in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favourably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc.’
Sharp-eyed audiences caught on to the fact that Apple products always indicated heroes at work as far back as 2001, when the television show 24 showed only its hero characters using Apple computers while villains were stuck with PCs.
Apple isn’t alone in ensuring its products are seen in the best possible light when used by characters in film and television.
‘All brands have stipulations for how they want to be used and seen on screen,’ Darryl Collis, product placement specialist at Seesaw Media
‘It is common for some brands not to want to be associated with a bad guy, or for an alcohol or car brand not to want be linked with characters being drunk.’
Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle once said in an interview that Mercedes cars can be seen in the movie – but weren’t product placement.
When the car company saw the movie after release they had no problem with it being seen in a posh housing estate but not when it was driving round a slum.