Earlier this month, Apple removed Fortnite from the iOS App Store after Epic released an update that violated the store’s terms and conditions. Epic was prepared for this, however, and launched a comprehensive lawsuit complete with a parody version of Apple’s famous 1984 commercial. The original version was directed by Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, who apparently had some mixed feelings about Epic’s homage.
“I sure have and I wrote them because on the one hand I can be fully complimented by the fact they copied [my commercial] shot for shot,” Scott told IGN. “But pity the message is so ordinary when they could have been talking about democracy or more powerful things [...] I think the animation was terrific, the idea was terrific, and the message was ‘ehh.’”
Part of Scott’s hesitation toward Epic’s message may come from the source material for both the parody and the original commercial. George Orwell’s novel, 1984, is a dystopian story about a totalitarian government that attempts to control its citizens thoughts and ideas — hence both commercials’ gray-uniformed workers.
It’s worth noting that Epic’s message was not far out of line with the original Scott-directed commercial. Apple’s version of the ad, which was released during the 1984 Super Bowl, was centered on the idea of Apple’s new computers coming in to break up the monolithic hold that IBM had on the computing market.
In other words, both the original and the parody were about smashing quasi-monopolies by comparing them to fascist governments. This similarity is part of what made the commercial the perfect target for Epic as it was preparing for this public legal battle with Apple.
While the two companies remain engaged in their legal scuffle, Fortnite is — as of writing — still off the iOS App Store and likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. However, in the initial hearing for the case, the “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” commercial already came up a few times, so it’s likely this won’t be the last time we hear about Epic’s parody — whether Ridley Scott likes it or not.