Knives Out: Rian Johnson Was Given A Surprising Demand By Apple Over iPhone Use

The family in Knives Out

Director Rian Johnson has a unique perspective on filmmaking, and has had an impressive few years in the spot light. After subverting fan expectations in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and being given the keys to develop his own movie within the franchise, Johnson brought the delightful whodunnit mystery movie Knives Out to theaters last November. The movie was a critical and box office success, with the filmmaker earning an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Although it turns out that Johnson was given a surprising demand by Apple for the film's use of iPhones.

Smart phones like the iPhone are a constant part of modern society, so filmmakers often have to incorporate them into films that are set in the present. Knives Out was no exception, as members of Thrombey family like Jamie Lee Curtis' Linda and Jaeden Martell's Jacob were shown on their phone throughout the movie's runtime. But Chris Evans' character Ransom didn't get one, and Rian Johnson recently explained this as an interesting demand given by Apple. As he put it,

I don’t know if I should say this or not. Not ‘cause it’s like lascivious or anything, but because it’s going to screw me on the next mystery movie that I write. But forget it, I’ll say it, it’s very interesting. Apple will 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.

How wild is that? While iPhones are in tons of TV show and movies, it looks like Apple has some pretty strict rules with exactly how the devices are used on screen. Namely, that villain don't get access to the smart phone. I guess crime doesn't pay when it comes to iPhones.

Rian Johnson revealed this tidbit in a conversation with Vanity Fair, where the acclaimed filmmaker broke down one key scene from Knives Out. In the sequence, Jamie Lee Curtis is shown holding an iPhone, with the time on her device helping to establish the timeline of the movie. That's what prompted Johnson to give some insider information about working with Apple.

It turns out that iPhones don't go to villains, leaving Chris Evans' Ransom without the Apple device during Knives Out. Later in his same conversation Rian Johnson admits that revealing this detail about villains and Apple has the potential to spoil future movies. As he put it,

Every single person who has a bad guy in their movie and wants it to be a secret wants to murder me right now.

Spoiler alert! After this interview, moviegoers might look at iPhone use in movies differently. Although it is important to note that most of the characters of Knives Out occupy the morally grey. They've each got villainous tendencies, although Ransom was actually responsible for killing his father. That distinction makes all the difference with Apple.

It should be interesting to see what comes next for Rian Johnson. Plans for Knives Out's sequel are already in motion, which should excite the many moviegoers who saw it in theaters. The Oscar nominee was also given the chance to develop his own Star Wars movie, but we haven't heard any news on that front. But clearly Lucasfilm was happy with his work in The Last Jedi, giving him the chance to work with stories outside of the Skywalker Saga.

Knives Out is out on DVD and Blu-ray now. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.