Movie Talk

Budweiser, Stolichnaya want to get off ‘Flight’

Denzel Washington in 'Flight'. Photo by Paramount Pictures.

By Claudine Zap

Apparently, there is such a thing as bad publicity.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser beer, has asked Paramount to remove the beverage from the hit movie "Flight," about an alcoholic pilot (Denzel Washington) who drinks and does drugs before landing a malfunctioning airplane, saving most of the passengers onboard.

In the drama, the character is shown drinking a Bud while driving. The Associated Press reports that the vodka brand Stolichnaya, also featured in the film in a hotel minibar, has asked for the removal of its product from the movie, as well, and says the company did not grant a license for the brand's usage in the movie."We would never condone the misuse of our products and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving," said Budweiser's vice president, Robert McCarthy, in a statement to Reuters. "It is disappointing that Image Movers, the production company, and Paramount chose to use one of our brands in this manner." The brewing company has asked that the logo be removed from digital copies of the film and from future versions.

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Stolichnaya is also reportedly unhappy with the product placement. "Considering the subject matter of this film, it is not something in which we would have participated," James Curich, spokesperson for Stoli distributor William Grant and Sons, told AP.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that this could be a war between copyright and fair use. Copyright restricts the use of some trademarked logos and images, but fair use can be invoked to use brand names in films, even without the company's permission.

This isn't the first time a film has been challenged by a company for unauthorized product placement. The luxury handbag company Louis Vuitton sued Warner Bros. over fake luggage carried by actor Zach Galifianakis in "The Hangover Part II," arguing that it hurt the brand.

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The actor is seen at the airport with the knockoff, saying, "Careful, that is Lewis Vuitton." The lawsuit was dismissed.

And Caressa Lupold, a product-placement specialist for BabyBjörn, which is featured with the company's blessing in the TV show "Guys With Kids," had to intervene when a scene called for an actor to break out a weed whacker while wearing a BabyBjörn with a kid strapped to his chest.

"They thought it would be funny," Lupold told New York Magazine. "I'm like, 'Nope, that's not funny.'"

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