Apple's Secret iPhone Rule Might Just Ruin Detective Movies for Knives Out Fans

Apple's Secret iPhone Rule Might Just Ruin Detective Movies for Knives Out Fans
Image credit: Lionsgate Films, Apple TV+

Rian Johnson has spilled the beans.


  • In a recent interview, director Rian Johnson revealed Apple's peculiar policy regarding the use of its products on screen.
  • This is a big hint for anyone watching a modern mystery story, including Johnson’s own Knives Out series.
  • Product placement is a lucrative deal for Hollywood, sometimes making up big chunks of a film’s budget.

A Big Hint For Couch Detectives

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Knives Out director Rian Johnson revealed a way to tell who the bad guys are going to be in the movie – or in any other movie, even if the identity of the villain is supposed to be a mystery.

As part of a video breaking down some of his most iconic scenes, Johnson said:

“I don’t know if I should say this or not, not ’cause it’s lascivious or something, but because it’s gonna screw me on the next mystery movie that I write. But forget it, I’ll say it, it’s very interesting.”

He continued:

“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.”

Johnson spilled the secret while looking at footage from the first Knives Out movie, in a tense scene where millionaire Harlan Thrombey’s will is being read out. Many members of the Thrombey family are suspects in the death of Harlan, but if you know Apple’s little secret you’ll be able to discount most of them as the murderer – several of them are holding iPhones.

Apple's Secret iPhone Rule Might Just Ruin Detective Movies for Knives Out Fans - image 1

Apple Loves Movies

Knives Out isn’t the only movie to feature Apple products. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has many characters handling Apple devices – but no bad guys, naturally. Instead, it is Ethan Hunt and his colleagues who are tapping away on iPhones, MacBook Airs, and IPads.

Apple reportedly paid nearly $24 million to have their products associated with Tom Cruise and the Mission Impossible team.

Other heroes spotted using MacBooks include Elle Woods (Legally Blonde), Carrie Bradshaw (Sex & The City), and Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).

Good Vibes Only, Please

Perhaps it's no surprise that Apple doesn’t want its phones associated with murderers. After all, companies pay millions of dollars to have their products placed in Hollywood movies – that’s a lot of money to spend, and you want the audience to walk away with only good associations.

Product placement is a very lucrative business. Having a big-name brand in your movie can guarantee a good chunk of budget for filmmakers, and it can mean a big boost for companies when their products are associated with famous characters.

Harley Davidson reportedly forked out $10 million for their first electric bike to be driven by Black Widow in Age Of Ultron. In 2012, James Bond swaps out his usual vodka martini for a Heineken beer. That few seconds of screentime cost the Dutch beer company a whopping $45 million – a full third of the movie’s budget!

Perhaps the most famous story of product integration comes from 1982’s E.T. Director Steven Spielberg originally wanted his cute little alien to fall in love with M&Ms, but parent company Mars turned him down. Instead the movie did a cross-promotion with Hershey product Reese’s Pieces.

Mars must have been kicking themselves. After the release of E.T., the popularity of Reese’s Pieces skyrocketed. The Hershey chocolate company saw a 65% profit increase while E.T. was in theaters.

Sources: Vanity Fair, BossHunting.