And the best
supporting actor award goes to…Coca-Cola.
The beloved beverage has held a recurring role in movies through the years, from silent films and
foreign flicks, to cult classics, critical favorites and big-budget
blockbusters. Coke’s cinematic
cameos date back to the early 1900s, continuing through Hollywood’s golden
era and beyond.
on the billboard in Times Square in King
Kong, to Warren Beatty enjoying the refreshing beverage in Bonnie and Clyde, the influence cannot
be denied,” director Ridley Scott wrote in the forward to a new
photography book chronicling Coke’s indelible mark on the movie world.
featured a Coca-Cola neon sign in his 1982 sci-fi thriller, Blade Runner. “The message being,” he explained, “that even in a futuristic dystopian world, Coca-Cola is
has always been a symbol of Americana and a constant fixture in pop culture, the
brand has naturally found its way into scripts and onto sets -- not as a scene
stealer, per se, but as a subtle part of the narrative.
it’s a Coca-Cola sign, vending machine or cooler in the background, and
sometimes characters are talking about or drinking Coca-Cola,” said film
historian Audrey Kupferberg, who has compiled an extensive list of movies --
and specific scenes -- featuring the brand.
The earliest film to include Coca-Cola, according to Kupferberg and her husband and creative partner Rob Edelman, is a 1916
silent comedy titled The Mystery of the
Leaping Fish. In the cult hit, Douglas Fairbanks is seen driving on a California freeway when he passes by a Coca-Cola billboard
great example of why Coca-Cola is in so many movies,” added Kupferberg before rattling off a list of similar scenes. “It’s
part of our landscape.”
Marilyn Monroe is one of many major stars to drink Coca-Cola on the silver screen.
Three (1961) starring James Cagney as a Coca-Cola manager in Germany. Critics called it a '115
minute pause that refreshes.' Coke produced posters and 6-pack carton inserts to promote a tie-in with the movie.
The Planet of the Apes (1968) cast takes a Coke break during filming.
Jeff Bridges from The Last American Hero, a 1973 film about a NASCAR driver.
Rita Hayworth and Jack Lemmon from The Fire Down Below (1957).
Sandra Knight enjoys a Coke on the set of Thunder Road (1958).
Movie fans have enjoyed Coca-Cola with popcorn for decades: in the theater, at the drive-in and at home. This 1950 paper popcorn bag promoted the perfect pairing.
In this 1955 image, a delivery man unloads crates of Coca-Cola outside a theater in Australia.
This Oscar-themed flyer from 1952 encouraged theater customers to install Coke vending machines.
Company did not initially pursue product placements (several deals
were later struck in the ‘20s and ‘30s), likely because it didn’t need to.
inclusion in movies has happened organically because filmmakers believed
Coca-Cola truly belonged in the frame,” said Ted Ryan, Coke’s director of heritage
communications. “When Jimmy Stewart runs down the street in It’s a Wonderful Life, what else would we possibly
see in the background but a Coke sign?”
1960s, the company set up an office in Los Angeles to ensure the authenticity
of all Coca-Cola film references. If a studio requested a vintage bottle or sign,
for example, the Coke team in Hollywood would provide the items that matched the
period and overall aesthetic of the movie.
Edelman notes that movies shot on location after World War II provide a historical document of what a particular city -- and, in many cases, a particular brand -- looked like at the time. One of his favorite films, Body and Soul (1947), features a candy store in New York's Lower East Side in the '20s or '30s. "You see images of Coke signs in the windows and inside the store," he said, "so you get a sense of what Coke looked like back then. The production designer thought to put Coke signs in the scene to add a sense of realism."
Some of the
brand’s movie roles have been particularly iconic -- including the Coke
bottle that falls from the sky in The
Gods Must Be Crazy (1980), E.T. (1982)
opening can of Coke, Superman (1978)
crashing through a billboard, and a vending machine’s appearance in Dr.Strangelove
(1964). Others have existed outside the motion picture mainstream.
to many classics, Coca-Cola references and visuals have been used in obscure
films in interesting ways,” Edelman noted, citing Detour (1945) and Heat
Lightning (1934) as examples.
also includes more than a few foreign films, a testament to the beverage’s international appeal.
are triggered to expect Coca-Cola in America, but it’s easy to forget the brand is global," Kupferberg says. "In Jean-Luc Godard’s classic 1959 French film, Breathless, Jean Seberg is seen sitting at a Paris café. And what
is she drinking? Not wine, but Coke in a contour bottle.”