Apple doesn't let movie villains use iPhones, director Rian Johnson says

If only good guys carry iPhones, what brand of phones are movie villains using?

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
Expertise Huawei, Oppo, smartphones, smartwatches Credentials
  • More than a decade of journalism experience
Sareena Dayaram
2 min read
Knives Out cast

The director of Knives Out revealed a way to spot the villain in mystery movies.


Apple products have made prominent appearances in some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters. But if filmmakers want to use the iPhone on the silver screen, they have to abide by Apple's product placement rules. Rian Johnson, director of the Oscar-nominated Knives Out and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has revealed the lengths to which Apple goes to manage the image of its best-selling iPhones.

"I don't know if I should say this or not," Johnson said in an interview with Vanity Fair published Tuesday. "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 also joked that audiences can predict who the protagonist and antagonists are in movies based on what phone they carry.

"Oh no, 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 quipped.


You won't see any movie villains using iPhones, it seems.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple products are known to dominate product placement in Hollywood movies, with appearances in a plethora of popular TV shows and films including Sex and the City, Mission: Impossible and more recently in the flagship Apple TV Plus series The Morning Show, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. 

Among the first companies in the world to be valued at $1 trillion, Apple is reported to rely heavily on free product placement in movies or to pay for it in kind rather than exchanging money. It's a topic the company has long been hush-hush about.

Apple didn't respond to a request for comment. 

Watch this: The Top 5 video streaming services

New Movies Coming in 2023 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

See all photos