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From Soderbergh to 'Blockers,' an Apple product placement roundup

In recent movies, Apple products have been as ubiquitous as they ever have been. AppleInsider takes a look at which films from the last few years have made the best use of iPhones, MacBooks and other products.

In Blockers, an iMessage intercepted on a MacBook sets the plot in motion



Product placement, as any avid consumer of movies and TV shows knows, is an ever-present part of most entertainment. Brands pay studios and production companies a fee in exchange for using the product in their project. In the best cases, product placement makes the products look desirable, and functional, and in the worst, it comes across as intrusive and unnecessary.

Of late, Apple has been more open about using its products in movies and shows, even reaching a direct deal to promote its wares on "Saturday Night Live." In 2015, Apple took back the top spot in Brandchannel's Brandcameo Product Placement Awards, although it fell behind Mercedes Benz in 2016, the last year the rankings were released.

There's also "greeking," the phenomenon in which movies and shows cover up logos of products in order to not make a product more than a prop. Most movies of late have avoided this in favor of straight featuring of the products.

AppleInsider has been making a list of how Apple products have shown up on screens this year. Here are the ones that stuck out the most for us so far, with an assist from Product Placement Blog, for some details in this piece.




One movie, Steven Soderbergh's "Unsane," was filmed almost entirely using an iPhone 7 Plus; read our interview from March with actor Joshua Leonard about the experience on set, as well as Soderbergh editing the film on a MacBook Pro in a single evening.

The Apple presence in "Unsane" was not only behind the camera. The characters in it used iPhones, too, including one plot point in which a character smuggles such a phone into a mental institution.

The comedy "Blockers," starring John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz as a trio of parents going to ridiculous lengths to prevent their teenaged daughters from having sex on prom night, did a great job of actually integrating Apple product functionality into the plot. The teenagers are planning on iPhones via iMessage, and the parents find out about it because they're watching the iMessage window on a MacBook that one of them left open.

It's a scenario that's been known to happen in real life, and much more realistic than the 2014 comedy "Sex Tape." The plot hinged on an implausible scenario in which the couple accidentally uploads a large video file to the cloud, which is then shared with and downloaded by all of their friends.

Ana Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey with a MacBook



Apple products have long figured prominently in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" franchise; in the first film, it's a major plot point that Ana Steele played by Dakota Johnson was gifted a state-of-the-art MacBook by Christian Grey portrayed by Jamie Dornan. There were plenty of iPhones and MacBooks in the final film of the trilogy this year, "Fifty Shades Freed," although it wasn't quite as prominent as the product placement for Audi, which seemed to be at the center of half of the movie's shots.

Facetime featured in the 2018 film Love Simon



The coming-of-age comedy/drama "Love, Simon" centered largely on the protagonist's anonymous email relationship, carried out entirely, and clearly, on a MacBook. There are also FaceTime scenes scattered throughout involving iPhones.

The comedy "Game Night" was full of Apple products, especially iPhones and iPads.

Liam Neeson holds an iPhone in The Commuter



"The Commuter," the January action blowout has Liam Neeson's character, who likely has a particular set of skills, seeking to foil an assassination plot while on a commuter train. A big plot point centers on him losing his cell phone early in the movie, but is later handed a different one, an iPhone, which the bad guys use to get ahold of him to bark their latest threats. A cop character played by Sam Neill, uses a now-defunct Windows Phone.

In the comedy sequel "Super Troopers 2," the plot involves counterfeiting of fake iPhones, all of which have the same phone number.

In addition, there has been much use of Apple products on prestige TV shows this year, most notably on HBO's "Silicon Valley" and Showtime's "Billions."

The Disney-produced Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are bereft of intentional placement, but a device can be seen now and again. The movies haven't escaped Apple's design ethos entirely though, as the team behind the first "Iron Man" movie recently disclosed that the original iPhone inspired Iron Man's heads-up display.