Blue Sky - The Cloud Hosting Company

Ten Ways The iPhone Has Already Killed The Classic Movie


It's handy, glossy, multi-functional...and has to be carefully written out of nearly every modern film in order for a plot to get going. Here are ten Hollywood classics that wouldn't have survived the advent of iPhone and its chums...

It even has an app to empty cinemas...

There’s no doubt the iPhone has changed the world we live in. Now that people can carry everything from a satnav to an encyclopaedia to a vocoder in their pockets, all housed in that smooth little rectangle with the Apple on the back, everything must be just a little better, right?

Wrong. The iPhone has already killed off a huge amount of great movie plots, and must be stopped. The case for the prosecution begins…

Case 1

Victim: The Blues Brothers (1980)
Killed by:
Social networking tools

The Blues Brothers (1980)

A cult film for all the right reasons (imminent death of its star/endlessly quotable dialogue/cameo by James Brown), The Blues Brothers is nominally a story of redemption. The titular brothers must ‘get the band back together’ and put on a lucrative fundraising concert to raise enough money to save the orphanage they grew up in.

Back in 1980, this meant getting in the car and driving round to whatever various small-time gigs the band members had found themselves, before convincing them to rejoin the band. After which, to publicise the gig, they strapped a megaphone to their car and drove up and down the beach, letting the cool kids know the Place to Be.

2010 would have seen a much shorter movie. Elwood gets out his (all-black) iPhone and tracks down the band members through their artists’ pages on MySpace. To publicise the gig he gets onto Facebook. Job done, and the first two acts of the movie are now completely unnecessary: Aretha doesn’t tell us to Think, Ray doesn’t shake his tail feather and the State of Illinois saves hundreds of thousands of dollars in broken police cars.

Case 2

Victim: Memento (2001)
Killed by:
The cameraphone

Memento (2001)

Ironically, a very memorable movie. Protagonist Leonard has anterograde amnesia, after a head injury which leaves him unable to form new memories. With a busy daily schedule that requires him to hunt down and kill his late wife’s murderer, this causes problems. How can he remember the clues, facts, names and events of his crusade?

Leonard takes the decision to write down all this information in the one place he won’t forget: all over his body. Tattoos cover his skin, helping him piece together the important details such as licence plate numbers, suspects’ names, and of course the fact that ‘JOHN G RAPED AND KILLED MY WIFE’. It’s not every lead character that wears their motivation on their sleeve quite so obviously.

But what if he had his iPhone on him? The built-in camera, complete with date/time stamps, geo-tagging and uploads to Flickr or Facebook, would mean no more costly trips to the tattoo parlour. Providing Leonard could remember where his iPhone was (and I’ve never met an owner who let it more than 6 feet away from their pocket, amnesiac or not), he could continue on his homicidal quest without a torso that looks like a serial killer’s doodle-pad. Handy for him and whoever’s following his photo uploads on Flickr, but a little less dramatic and visually arresting as a movie.

Case 3

Victim: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Killed by:

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Now to a movie that looks as if it could have been shot on an iPhone. The low-budget chiller that took the world by storm at the end of the 20th century is based around a concept that is becoming more and more alien to the current generation: getting lost.

Remember getting lost? It’s what used to happen when you went somewhere you didn’t already know. You could do it almost anywhere. Someone even made a TV show about it.

But as we forge our way into the 21st century the concept of getting lost is becoming as relevant as having somewhere to park your Penny Farthing – it’s a problem people used to worry about that doesn’t really affect you any more. Sure, you might see someone in a movie scanning their environment and trying to figure out where the hell they are, but in real life all it now takes is to reach into the pocket and fire up the Maps app. You can tag the location of your car, your campsite and the Blair Witch, and never run into one when you’re looking for the other. Unless you throw your iPhone in a stream, of course. And depending on which insurance package you went for, that’s probably not the best idea.

Case 4

Victim: Saw (2004)
Killed by:

Saw (2004)

Here’s a movie franchise that repeatedly asks the following question in a number of different ways: how do you escape this trap? The first film’s grisly scenario featured two men, locked in chains, with a life-or-death deadline to meet as the clock ticks down. If only they had the keys to those locks…

…or their iPhone. Not only because whiling away a day in the company of a blood-soaked corpse and a panicking stranger is so much more agreeable with a bit of music to listen to (some smooth jazz to take the edge off, perhaps, or some Razorlight to help you welcome the cold embrace of death), but because of YouTube.

The open-access video library is a vast font of knowledge as well as a collection of music videos, celebrity interviews and video mashups of Kermit the Frog vs. Hitler. And while Wikipedia might tell you what to do, its YouTube that shows you how to do it.

The first Saw movie runs to 103 minutes. ‘How to pick a lock’ on YouTube (1.5 million views) is two and a half minutes long. Even if you slow Saw’s end credits right down to a crawl, trying to fill 100 extra minutes of a story that’s over before it begins sounds like real torture.

Case 5

Victim: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Killed by:

Ferris and company take an artistic break

Ahh, the simple pleasures of teenage life. Bunking off school, hitting the big city, going to a gallery, performing huge song and dance numbers on your own parade float. Times, I’m sure, we all remember fondly.

Back when I was a teenager it was perfectly possible to pull a sickie, as long as your parents worked away from the house. With the long weekday stretched ahead of you and no school, it was totally feasible to enjoy life to the full, as long as you didn’t bump into anyone from your school or family.

The title character of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off knows this well, and enjoys his day off as much as we enjoyed watching it. His schoolmates, believing him to be seriously ill, end up launching a ‘Save Ferris’ campaign, much to his big sister’s annoyance.

But could this happen today? Of course not. Can you imagine today’s popular, charismatic iPhone-wielding 17-year-old having the type of day Ferris had and not tweeting about it constantly?


Plus, by the time his day off had ended the Save Ferris campaign would have gone viral: a Facebook shrine, a Justgiving page, celebrity involvement and coverage on hard-up-for-stories 24-hour news channels. By the time he made it back to school the next day the sympathy fatigue and backlash would have already started, which in the case of real-life Ferris, Matthew Broderick, didn’t actually happen until ten years later with Godzilla.

Case 6

Victim: Romeo and Juliet (1996)
Killed by:

Romeo And Juliet (1996)

Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers was memorably brought to the screen in 1996 as a modernised adaptation, set in ‘Verona Beach’. While the dialogue stayed true to the original, the costume and production design rooted the story in a stylised late 20th century setting.

The young lovers are divided by loyalties to their warring families and so must keep their love secret. In 2010 that would mean only one thing: constant texting.

What teenager in love can resist the allure of casual flirtation in 144 characters or less? Although, of course, Shakespeare’s verbose way with words might mean an unlimited text package would be the way to go: you don’t want to be watching the character-count while trying to make woo.

‘Rmeo, rmeo, were4art thow rmeo?’

Most importantly, though, modern iPhone etiquette dictates that if you’re going to fake your own suicide it’s a good idea to let your husband know by at least dropping him a text. These days, just because you’re grounded by your folks doesn’t mean you can’t still get in touch. So instead of one of the world’s greatest tragedies we end up with two smug teenagers pulling a prank on their parents, experimenting with coma-inducing drugs and no doubt cheekily sexting from their balconies.

Case 7

Victim: Back To The Future (1985)
Killed by:

Back To The Future (1985)

A movie that inspired a generation to take up long-lasting love affairs with skateboarding, electric guitars and Michael J Fox, as well as a somewhat less permanent affection for Huey Lewis & The News, Back To The Future’s charm lay in the juxtaposition of 1950s and 1980s America. How we laughed at the naiveté and values of small town 50s Americana, viewed through our MTV and Pacman-addled 80s eyes.

The biggest chuckles came when lead character Marty brought a little of his ‘futuristic’ thinking to the table: inventing the skateboard to outrun the goons, using Van Halen tapes as a torture method, and of course tapping out an 80s hair rock solo on electric guitar at the school dance for the finale.

Marty only gets on stage with the band because the regular guitarist gets injured. With no guitarist, how can the dance go ahead? What will the kids dance to?

Plug in the iPhone, of course. With thousands of tracks stored on the little buggers the whole ‘let’s do the show right here and save the party’ plot goes right out the window. Remember The Beatles jamming in a train carriage in A Hard Day’s Night? Well cherish that memory, because these days they’d be more likely to be each staring out the window, listening to Finnish Deathcore and Norwegian Wood through tiny white earbuds.

Case 8

Victim: Jaws (1975)
Killed by:
3G internet

Jaws (1975)

Need a bigger boat? Stop complaining and order one online!

A 27-foot Macwestern Sailboat is currently going for £9950 on eBay. What are you waiting for?

Using the eBay app, you can just imagine the tension as the auction nears its inevitable conclusion! Duuuuum-dum! Duuuuum-dum!! Dumdum-dumdum-dumdum-dumdum-duh-nah-naaaaaaaaah!

Damn, outbid by Brodybunch75 at the last minute…

Case 9

Victim: The Graduate (1967)
Killed by:

The Graduate (1967)

At the end of the 1967 Dustin Hoffman classic the title character Ben must race to the church where the focus of his obsession is marrying another man, all to the strains of Simon & Garfunkel. He drives as fast as he can, gets lost, runs out of gas and ends up running to the church.

That’s great, Ben, but do you know what I do when I desperately need to contact someone? I phone them up. If she really likes you I’m sure you can talk her round over the phone. She’s obviously not that interested in your looks, so your gift of gab is probably what attracted her in the first place.

Plus you might want to get the iFlorist app and get some flowers sent to smooth things over. And if you feel you absolutely have to do it in person, try using an app like PetrolPrices Pro to make sure you don’t run out of petrol at key dramatic points in the narrative, college boy…

Case 10

Victim: Scarface (1983)
Killed by:
The App Store

Scarface (1983)

Antihero Tony Montana’s climb up the slippery pole of organised crime begins with a coke deal that rapidly turns sour. Meeting representatives of a Colombian cartel in a seedy Miami motel, Tony and his buddy grow suspicious when the Colombians are slow to show them the money. What follows is another tough day at the office for the wannabe drug kingpin, involving chainsaws in shower stalls and a broad-daylight shootout in the middle of Ocean Drive.

What Tony clearly needed was the Paypal app. Never again do we need to see the clichéd shot of the briefcase full of dollars: the mundane reality of everyday money transfer is anything but visual. Tap tap tap – your transfer is complete. Bad news for cinema, but there are some perks for Tony and his ilk.

For one thing, it is much harder to steal money that doesn’t physically exist. So if you’re buying a mountain of Colombian coke from a man with a revving chainsaw, you can rest a little easier that at least your purchase is protected. Plus, the feedback system could prove really useful – if you’re selling to someone with under 80% positive feedback, better bring a bullet-proof vest and a little friend.

What do you think? Are we being too harsh on the little box ‘o tricks? Are there other plots you foresee being ruined forever by the iPhone, or would it just improve them? Would Ghostbusters have been funnier if Venkman had the iFart app? Would Scarface have been improved by a Scarface Soundboard? Let us know below…

Lists at Shadowlocked


If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.



#1 Guest 2010-05-20 06:38
they've already began incorporating the mobile phone in horror movies. Everywhere the cast ends up they all seem to have no reception, just when a maniac killer is on the loose. Gosh darn, what are the odss
#2 Guest 2010-05-20 09:53
Hell yes I love that boat.
#3 Guest 2010-05-20 10:23
This is genius esp the sexting Romeo and Juliet and tagging the Blair Witch. Give us more like this !
#4 Guest 2010-05-20 10:33
BRILLIANT piece, laughed a lot!
#5 Guest 2010-05-20 10:33
Ah, but think of the great plots that you can now create - iPhone goes missing, iPhone is programmed by alien race to give misinformation, iPhone hacker seeks to plant nuclear device at Apple HQ
#6 Guest 2010-05-20 17:04
Ahhh...the iPhone...can't live with it, can't live without. Question is...would epic Hollywood boondoggles such as "Heaven's Gate" been made in the era of the iPhone? Our would people just opt stay home and sip on a Rosebud?
#7 Guest 2010-05-20 17:05
Wow, I can't stop rolling on the floor laughing, or I guess if I wanted to text that I would ROTFL. Or something like that. The writer of this, Adam Hampton is really an amazing writer, lots of wit, charm and super funny. He really has a handle on movies, and his choice of movies to discuss were perfect. Every movie made me smile when I thought of how good the movie was and how the plot would be killed by Adam's hilarious scenarios. Hopefully I will see more posts by him in the future. I will definitely come back form more if I do.
#8 Guest 2010-05-20 17:06
But would HEaven's Gate have been made in the era of the iPhone or would people just stay home and sip on Rosebud all night?
#9 Guest 2010-05-20 17:52
[quote name="The writer of this, Adam Hampton is really an amazing writer".

Can you tell he's a friend of mine?

Cheque's in the mail, thanks buddy!

#10 Guest 2010-05-20 17:57
Quoting Taylor F.:
But would HEaven's Gate have been made in the era of the iPhone or would people just stay home and sip on Rosebud all night?

No, I reckon they'd make it today, but all told from the Gate's point of view...
#11 Guest 2010-05-20 18:54
Ok ok, I am Adam's friend, but I would like it regardless. The check being in the mail is very old school Adam, I prefer Pay Pal. You can just pay me there. Actually that brings up my favorite part of the article, the pay pal part and the guy having a high rating made me laugh the most. A funny mental image popped into my head about a drug dealer checking the pay pal website (he should make sure it is the legit one and not one of those Phishing ones) and deciding which of his arsenal to bring. Does he have a percent cut off for a grenade or an uzi? How does he decide if he has to round up or round down? Anyway, good work Ads. Love your stuff.
#12 Guest 2010-05-20 20:08
This is brilliant! Very very funny! Keep em comin...
#13 Guest 2010-05-23 08:45
Funny, very funny. Clever and surprising. And as a n antediluvian technophobe, very enlightening too. Now I know why I am scared of machines and love to sit in a dark movie theater. And now I want an iphone. Can I do oil paintings on one?
#14 Mathew 2010-05-27 11:08
brilliant!!! Great article!!!
#15 The Lurking Bat 2010-05-27 11:49
they should have added 'Die Hard' to the list.
#16 Carteeg_Struve 2010-05-27 12:18
Imagine Lord of the Rings if Gandalf could had whipped out his 3Gs and discovered through the Balrog's RunKeeper and Facebook accounts that the vile beast was jogging around in the upper layers of Moria. "Never mind the fresher air down that passage. Let's take the longer way on the right. Just to be safe."

Good thing the dwarfs added wi-fi to the mines before their civilization collapsed.
#17 Windywoo 2010-05-27 16:06
Articles like this are the reason I think Apple's "success" means very little. People who have little understanding of technology who just go for the latest buzzwords and write articles about them. And the comments section full of people falling over themselves to kiss ass.
#18 JB 2010-05-27 19:31
No iphone Scarface would be complete without the isnort app -

and of course if you needed any celebrity endorsements for your anti-iphone who better to look to than this man -
#19 Josie 2010-05-27 19:59
But that's the point, isn't it? I mean, Jane Austen would be crap these days. With every movie seeming to be a remake of the last three movies, it's nice to have to work around a new obstacle. Look at 30 Days of Night, they neatly just destroyed every single access to the outside world. It didn't take much, and it definitely sucked you in in the beginning.

There is nothing better than a movie where you ask "why don't you just..." and they the smack you down and give you a completely plausible "because".

What comes to mind is that scary movie......Scream, where she is trying to email or chat or something with the police on her computer, and I thought to myself, really? I didn't even know you could do that!

And the truth is, you can't even text message the police in this country, so that is a great little loophole to juice for all it's worth.

There are reasons why the movie industry has to evolve, and the iPhone is just throwing down that challenge.
#20 Mike Fulton 2010-05-27 20:01
Why stop with classic movies? Why not ***** about how the iPhone would have changed historical events like the American Revolution, with Paul Revere sending out a tweet saying "The British Are Coming!" Or "Text 1 if by land, 2 if by sea".
#21 The Former 786 2010-05-27 20:38

I thought this article was going to talk about how watching a giant movie on a small screen was a travesty, but this was well-thought out comedy gold!

Well done!
#22 None 2010-05-27 21:07
how can you say that iphone killed the classic movie, when you are actually referring to ebay, paypal, youtube, 3g, gps, etc.
Any smartphone is capable of that, not just the iphone.
#23 mike 2010-05-27 22:13
pretty sad list really. The Iphone will get you out of being lost if you are in the city the min you go out into the back country you will be toast. Without cell reception the GPS on those phones does not work. Basically every argument is flawed.
#24 InTheHighCastle 2010-05-28 00:02
I don't get it, did the regular phone kill classic movies before the Iphone? Is this an anti technology/progression article?
It's an Idea that can be applied to anything.
Boy, that machine gun would have really ruined the Crusades.
#25 RE: Ten Ways The iPhone Has Already Killed The Classic Movie Tisha 2010-11-23 15:57
Oh my God some of you are taking this article way too seriously. It was meant to be funny. Geez, take a joke.

And it was funny and it was a well written article with a lot of great movies choices, well except for Blair Witch LOL Hated that movie!
#26 The Tweenbopper Phone M. Hufstader 2010-12-12 20:06
I for one am just waiting for there to be a gangster movie in which the badass hardcore mob head whips out...his iphone. I'm sorry, but I can't take anyone seriously with an iphone. It makes business men look like 15 year old girls playing grownup.

-The Smoking Pen
#27 RE: Ten Ways The iPhone Has Already Killed The Classic Movie zatch 2010-12-21 21:18
So in Back to the Future, you'd plug the iphone into what with what? Sony introduced the 3.5mm "minijack" stereo connector in 1979. Easy wiring fix for sure, but why spend 20 minutes splicing when you're a righteous guitar player and you've got a band right there....
#28 RE: Ten Ways The iPhone Has Already Killed The Classic Movie moviedemon 2010-12-21 23:28
Pretty funny stuff!

Of course there's no merit to it whatsoever. You could make any one of these films today, without changing a single thing. Just make them "period pieces" - that is, set them in a time before cell phones were common.
#29 RE: Ten Ways The iPhone Has Already Killed The Classic Movie Serg 2011-02-02 16:10
One flaw in your Scarface entry. Criminals don't deal in e-Money. It's too easy to trace and too much hassle to launder. Cash will always be in style for people who trade in the underworld.
#30 RE: Ten Ways The iPhone Has Already Killed The Classic Movie M3n747 2012-06-05 19:36
"Friend cut with chainsaw, would not buy again."
#31 iPhone Tawdry Nudes 2012-11-28 13:44
Went to a revival screening of Kubrick's 2001, one of the most prescient and cautionary tales of mankind's technological endgame ever made ("There really is no need for this conversation to continue, Dave") and witnessed hundreds of people in the audience whip out their IPhones during intermission.

Report an error in this article
Add comment (comments from logged in users are published immediately, other comments await moderator approval)