Alcohol plays a large role in Denzel Washington’s new film Flight, as the film’s protagonist is an alcoholic, however, a pair of liquor brands are unhappy with their free product placement in the movie. ThoughWashington is seen drinking a variety of drinks during the film, Anheuser-Busch has asked that Paramount Pictures remove the Budweiser logo from all current and future copies. At one point, a Budweiser beer can is visible inWashington’s hand while he steers.
Joining Budweiser in the request is vodka brand Stolichnaya, which is among the different liquors the character drinks. Both companies claim that the studio never requested the licenses for either product, and that they would have denied their use. Flight follows the tale of a heroic pilot with alcohol abuse issues, prompting the companies to withdraw their brands.
“We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving,” Budweiser Vice President Robert Zemeckis told E! News. “It is disappointing that Image Movers, the production company, andParamountchose to use one of our brands in this manner.”
Entertainment law seems to fall in favor ofParamountin this case, as licenses are not required under “fair use” laws, allowing familiar brands to be used in productions.
“It wouldn’t have been as effective a film if they used a bunch of non-generic brands,” a professor at Loyola Law School told Entertainment Weekly. “In a normal situation, if the alcohol were just there as a smaller part of the movie, they might have created an artificial brand for it.”
Flight made $25 million in its opening weekend, coming in second place behind Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph.Washington has garnered critical acclaim for his performance in the film, which will draw even further attention to the film and the brands included in the coming weeks.