Could you have guessed the ending of Succession based on what phones the characters use? Not at all, I’m afraid, but let’s talk about why people think you can.
Last year, Knives Out and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson made some waves in the entertainment industry by claiming that Apple wouldn’t let villainous characters use iPhones on film.
“Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but, and this is very pivotal… bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” the director claimed.
Johnson teased the phenomenon as a kind of built-in spoiler: if you’re watching a mystery movie, you can predict the ending by watching what brand of phone the characters are using. And for his hit whodunnit Knives Out, it’s true: the villainous character is one of the only people in the film to never be shown using an Apple product.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro
So naturally, fans of the hit HBO show Succession, eager to predict the ending (which aired Dec 12) and ruin the experience of watching television for themselves, devised complex theories about how the characters’ choice in mobile operating system might predict the ending. Since Kendall and Shiv Roy both use iPhone Pros while Logan, Roman and Gerri use Galaxy Note 20 Ultras and other Androids, does that mean Kendall and Shiv will eventually join forces to wrest control of Waystar Royco from their father? (Sincere apologies to everyone who doesn’t watch Succession and is baffled by this paragraph).
Maybe! That might very well have been how the show ended. Only problem with this theory? That’s not how licensing works.
“I’m comfortable saying that moviemakers don’t need a license to have characters using everyday products in normal ways,” Legal Director John Bermayer of Public Knowledge told ArsTecnica. Unless the character is implying endorsement, or Apple is paying for product placement, they simply don’t have that legal control.
Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
There’s also the fact that, well, villains use iPhones on screen in movies all the time. August Walker (Henry Cavill) uses an iPhone in Mission Impossible: Fallout, and Cipher (Charlize Theron) uses an iPhone in The Fate Of The Furious — which is particularly notable because she uses it to show Dom (Vin Diesel) photos of his kidnapped wife and son, and because she is one of the only villainous characters in the entire franchise to not eventually turn good.
So yes, while it’s true that there are patterns in which characters are using iPhones, that doesn’t matter unless Apple has a product placement deal with HBO that none of us know about. – Times Union, Albany, N.Y./Tribune News Service