Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser, has asked Paramount to remove the beer from its hit film Flight, which centers on an alcoholic pilot who guzzles alcohol and takes drugs both before and after he prevents a malfunctioning jetliner from crashing.
Throughout the Robert Zemeckis-directed movie, Denzel Washington's character drinks beer and vodka with gusto. In one scene, he sips from a Budweiser while driving. And Anheuser-Busch has taken notice.
The Belgium-based beermaker has asked that the Budweiser logo be removed or obscured from digital copies of the film and future versions slated for release on VOD services and other formats.
"We would never condone the misuse of our products and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving," said Rob McCarthy, a vp at Budweiser, in a statement to the Associated Press.
Trademark and copyright laws can prevent logos or other protected images from being used without permission in films. But filmmakers also are granted certain "fair use" privileges under Federal law, which allows for certain use of protected materials without receiving permission from the rights holder. Fair use is invoked for everything from films to television and newspaper reports.
Paramount declined comment. The film, which opened Nov. 2, grossed $25 million in its opening weekend and received strong reviews.
Budweiser isn't the only alcoholic beverage enjoyed by Washington's character: He also drinks Smirnoff, Absolut and Stolichnaya vodkas. During one climactic scene, the character stares at an open hotel minibar, and the labels of many alcohol bottles are visible. According to the AP, Stoli distributor William Grant & Sons did not license the brand for use in the film.
"Considering the subject matter of this film, it is not something in which we would have participated," James Curich, spokesman for William Grant & Sons, told the AP.
Representatives of Smirnoff, Absolut and William Grant & Sons could not immediately be reached for comment.