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Did you know you could guess who the bad guy is in any movie just by looking at their phone? Knives Out and Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson explains why you’ll never see a villain using an Apple product.

Rian Johnson explains bad guys can't use iphones
Rian Johnson | Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Apple is concerned with the use of its technology in entertainment 

Apple has carefully protected its public image, especially when it comes to how its products are used in entertainment. When creators were pitching content to Apple TV, executives reportedly “expressed squeamishness when it [came] to the portrayal of technology in the shows,” according to the New York Times. Historically, Apple has always wanted to know precisely how their products, including iPhones and Mac laptops, are going to be used in a movie or series so as to better control its public image. 

What’s more, Apple’s terms of service, which everyone must agree to to use an Apple product, states that their technology can be used only if: “The use reflects favorably on both Apple and Apple products or technology.”

Apple will allow the use of iPhones in movies, but “bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” according to Johnson. If you’re a big mystery movie fan, this small detail can play a significant role in helping you solve the crime. 

The significance of iPhones in ‘Knives Out’  

Johnson broke down a pivotal scene in Knives Out that revealed who the bad guy wasn’t very early on in the movie. While celebrating the props department for ensuring the time on the clock in the scene was the same as the time on Jamie Lee Curtis’ character’s phone, Johnson explained the major film making secret. 

“Every single filmmaker that has a bad guy in their movie that’s supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now,” Johnson joked, adding how he was potentially spoiling his future in mystery movies. In films like Knives Out, where almost every character is accused of murder, taking note of who is using iPhones and which characters aren’t can be a dead giveaway. 

In this scene, Curtis’ use of an iPhone gives away that she is not responsible for the murder in the film — but it’s not too much of a spoiler!

Other tech companies covet their portrayal in entertainment 

Apple isn’t the only technology company that protects its public image. “All brands have stipulations for how they want [their technology] to be used and seen on-screen,” Darryl Collis, the director of product placement specialists Seesaw Media, explained to 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 to be linked with characters being drunk or involving crashes.”

Previously, Knives Out star Daniel Craig reportedly turned down a $50 million deal that asked James Bond to use a Samsung phone in the 2015 film Spectre. In Craig’s mind, 007 wouldn’t have used a device made by Samsung or Sony — he and director Sam Mendes also turned down an $18 million offer from the other technology giant. 

In other movies, like Slumdog Millionaire, creators didn’t ask for permission to use specific brands. Coca-Cola and Mercedes weren’t pleased with the way their products were utilized in the storytelling — according to creator Danny Boyle, Mercedes wasn’t happy with their vehicles being used in an impoverished area. 

Next time you’re watching a movie or series, take note of how technology is used. Doing so could be more telling than you think.