In the version of the world that Apple wants to see on the big screen, only the good guys have iPhones, according to Knives Out and Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. In what may be a spoiler for Knives Out and numerous other films, Johnson tells Vanity Fair that "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 adds: "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 did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
Apple may be more strict than most in controlling how its brand is seen on screen, but similar policies are not unusual, the Guardian reports. "All brands have stipulations for how they want to be used and seen on screen," says Darryl Collis at product placement specialists 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 or involving crashes." The Apple "no bad guys" policy was apparently in place as far back as 2002, when Wired observed that only the good guys in 24 used Macs. Ashwin Rodrigues at Vice criticizes Apple's "overreach into fictional worlds," noting that real-life villains like price-gouging former pharma CEO Martin Shkreli are very fond of their iPhones. (Read more Apple stories.)