The Denzel Washington drama “Flight” soared to $25 Million at the Box Office this weekend but got heat from Budweiser for a less then ideal and unexpected product placement. The box office gross is quite an accomplishment for an R-Rated movie playing in 1900 theaters with a 2 hour 15 minute running time. This is the power of Denzel’s brand on the Return on Investment for Paramount. However, the Associated Press reported that Anheuser-Busch is less then flattered to have their product in the hands of an alcoholic:
Anheuser-Busch said Monday that it has asked Paramount Pictures Corp. to obscure or remove the Budweiser logo from the film, which at one point shows Washington’s character drinking the beer while behind the wheel.
A statement from Rob McCarthy, vice president of Budweiser, wrote the following statement to The Associated Press: “We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving,” McCarthy wrote. “We have asked the studio to obscure the Budweiser trademark in current digital copies of the movie and on all subsequent adaptations of the film, including DVD, On Demand, streaming and additional prints not yet distributed to theaters.”
Product placement is a way of life for the Entertainment Industry. Just wait until “Skyfall”opens later this week. And any alcoholic beverage company would love the exposure in a top notch adult drama, talented A-List star like Denzel. However, in “Flight” we watch Denzel as an alcoholic abusing liquor and beer. No one wants to be the product an alcoholic would drink…especially while driving. One can understand their concern, especially if they weren’t consulted.
Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight” isn’t really about a plane crash and the aftermath of an unfolding investigation. It is a very thoughtful character study about one man’s out of control addictions, his connection with a fellow drug abusing lost soul (a surprise main character not featured in any ads), and the philosophical discussions of fate (“God’s Will”) impacting our lives. Denzel Washington is a bitter cocaine using alcoholic pilot with deep relational scars. It’s quite a haunting, jarring, and exhausting performance. Seeing select products from a specific brand would make a beer distributor uncomfortable.