Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch has reportedly asked Paramount to obscure all images of its flagship beer in the Robert Zemeckis movie Flight. In the drama, Denzel Washington plays an airline pilot accused of drinking before captaining a plane. It includes scenes showing Washington consuming alcoholic beverages, including Budweiser and assorted vodka brands. The well-reviewed film opened #2 this weekend with $25M. Now, according to wire reports, Budweiser VP Robert McCarthy has penned a letter to Zemeckis’ Image Movers and to Paramount saying Anheuser-Busch had “no knowledge of the use or portrayal of Budweiser” before or during the film’s production and were not contacted by the studio. “We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving. It is disappointing that Image Movers, the production company, and Paramount chose to use one of our brands in this manner,” McCarthy said in the letter. “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.”
According to the Associated Press, experts say Flight is unlikely to run afoul of trademark protections, as courts have ruled products can be featured in films regardless of whether the companies approve, as long as their appearance is artistically relevant.