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Whose The Bad Character In A Movie? The One Without An iPhone

Whose the bad guy in a movie? If they appear with an iPhone supplied by Apple they cannot be cast as a villain, according to The Last Jedi director.

Rian Johnson said he struggled with strict restrictions from the tech giant while filming Knives Out because bad characters weren’t allowed to use their iPhones throughout the film.

‘I don’t know if I should say this or not… Not because it’s lascivious or something, but because it’s going to screw me on the next mystery I write,’ Johnson told Vanity Fair.

Rian Johnson arrives at the 92nd Oscars Nominees Luncheon held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, CA on Monday, ​January 27, 2020. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA)

Rian Johnson, Michael Shannon, Jaeden Martell, Daniel Craig, Katherine Langford, Don Johnson, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ram Bergman attend the premiere of “Knives Out” at Regency Village Theatre on November 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA, USA. (Photo by Lionel Hahn/ABACAPRESS.COM.)

‘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.

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

Despite the film’s success that saw it receive 97 per cent approval from Rotten Tomatoes 8/10 from IMBb, Apple’s product placement guidelines insist that only heroes and likeable characters use iPhones.

The policy proves to be an issue for popular horror or thriller movie sets, as it could reveal certain characters’ roles prior to the natural play out in the narrative.

Citing a significant scene in Knives Out where Jamie Lee Curtis’ character, Linda Drysdale, holds an iPhone signifies to the audience that she is not the killer – acting as an anticlimax to the films’ mysterious storyline.

This image released by Lionsgate shows Katherine Langford, from left, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Riki Lindholm and Jaeden Lieberher in a scene from “Knives Out.” (Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP)

This image released by Lionsgate shows Jamie Lee Curtis, from left, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson and Michael Shannon in a scene from “Knives Out.” The film is nominated for a Golden Globe for best motion picture comedy. (Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP)

Over the past decade, Apple has had more product placements in movie and TV sets than any other brands – which helps with brand recognition – but the company has always stood by the products being the hero.

Apple’s devices have featured in popular sex comedy series, Sex and the City, Fast Five, The Family Guy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier – to name a few.

Brand tracking company, Concave, has said that Apple product placement appears in some form throughout most media productions across the modern world.

Concave’s research found there was 13-minutes of air time for Apple in the second season of Big Little Lies, which featured big Hollywood names like Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Meryl Streep.

Executive producers Reese Witherspoon, left, and Nicole Kidman attend the premiere of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” season two at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Sex and the City Actress Sarah Jessica Parker. (AAP Image/Stefan Postles)

Back in 2012, Apple’s Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, said the company would love to see its products used by the biggest and best in the business. He also said the main theme was ensuring the strategic product placement worked in their favour.

In product placement guidelines, Apple said 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.’

But eagle-eyed audiences have noticed Apple products always placed as heroes in different films and settings as far back as 2001, when TV series ‘24’ only showed Apple computers used by likeable characters while villains used Microsoft PCs.

Apple isn’t alone in placing strict product placement guidelines for its products in the media – it’s a popular and often successful marketing tactic used by many global brands.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, introduces the iPad Mini in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

‘All brands have stipulations for how they want to be used and seen on screen,’ Darryl Collis, product placement specialist with Seesaw Media, told The Guardian.

‘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.’

Another example of brands being selective about product placement – even if unpaid – is when Slumdog Millionaire director, Danny Boyle, revealed in an interview that Mercedes cars were featured in the movie. He said the cars weren’t selected as a part of product placement.

When Mercedes noticed the cars used in the popular movie, it had no issue with its branded cars being seen driving through lucrative housing estates but detested seeing them in slums.


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