Director Rian Johnson: Apple Doesn't Let Bad Guys Use iPhones on Camera in Movies

In an interview with Vanity Fair today, Rian Johnson, who directed the popular movie "Knives Out," shared an interesting tidbit about iPhone product placement deals for films. Apple, he says, allows iPhones to be used in movies, but bad guys aren't allowed to have iPhones on camera.

The relevant passage starts at 2:50 into the video

Also another funny thing, I don't know if I should say this or not... Not cause it's like lascivious or something, but because it's going to screw me on the next mystery movie that 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.

So oh nooooooo, every single filmmaker that has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now.

Apple is known for having strict rules about how devices are used, portrayed, and photographed. As part of its guidelines for using Apple trademarks and copyrights, for example, Apple says that Apple products should only be shown "in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favorably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc."

As noted by our forum members, people have in the past pointed out that it's the good guys that use Apple products in TV shows in movies. When "24" was on the air, Wired wrote about a fan theory that the good guys use Macs while the bad guys use PCs, which turned out to be accurate.

Given this tidbit from Johnson, who is a well-respected director, many people may be watching movies with a much keener eye on the devices that actors and actresses are using to suss out hidden details.

Top Rated Comments

ThunderSkunk Avatar
10 months ago
I can understand Johnson’s frustration with having to be clear about who is a good guy and who is a bad guy. ...since he turned Luke Skywalker into a miserable homicidal maniac and reduced Han and Leia to the worst parents in the galaxy.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
matty.p Avatar
10 months ago
Wasn’t this already known? It was a running joke that bad guys use android and good guys always have iPhones or that the bad guys have PCs and the good guys have Macs in the days before iPhones.

edit: Yeah here’s an article from 2003 pointing it out. http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/Roger_Ebert_Good_Guys_Always_Use_Macs

and one from 2002 pointing it out from 24 which is what I was thinking of. https://www.wired.com/2002/05/24s-good-guys-do-use-macs/
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skeith Avatar
10 months ago
I see plenty of Apple products on House of Cards though.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rojaaemon Avatar
10 months ago
In a modern version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning and is happy to be alive, but finds his Android is dead batt and is given an iPhone by the ghost of Steve Jobs.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
10 months ago
Just like how China doesn't let American film companies portray China as the villain, lest they lose access to the Chinese market. I guess Apple learned a few tricks from working so closely with the Chinese government.

Good reading here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/18/world/asia/china-movies.html
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tennisproha Avatar
10 months ago


Apple says that Apple products should only be shown "in the best light,

lol sounds like something Kim Jong il would say
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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