Does the New Movie R.I.P.D. Violate the MBTA’s Filming Policy?
It may look like an MBTA bus running over Jeff Bridges’ character in the new summer film R.I.P.D, co-starring Ryan Reynolds, but officials from the transit agency claim they have no record of renting out the vehicle—which could mean it oversteps the boundaries of the T’s filming policies.
Before the summer season ends, R.I.P.D, a “supernatural action-adventure” featuring Reynolds and Bridges as deceased cops battling the undead, is set to hit theaters. And viewers who decide to take in the film may see some familiar background shots because Universal Pictures made a large portion of the movie in Charlestown and other parts of Boston toward the end of summer 2011.
One such scene, which was included in the movie’s official trailer, shows Reynolds’ character picking up Bridges and throwing him into an oncoming bus. Bridges’ character, who is portrayed as a woman in the scene—it’s part of the plot—makes face-to-windshield contact with the bus, which is driven by a man wearing an MBTA uniform, complete with a “T” on his hat and his sleeve:
The bus also has a “T” logo on the side behind the wheel well, and the colors match that of some of the transit agency’s earliest fleet vehicles. At right is the screenshot from the trailer:
But MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said Thursday that the T has no record of renting out a bus to the makers of R.I.P.D. while they were here in Boston, something they have done for commercials and other films in the past. “[Our] staff has not found a record of renting an MBTA bus to the makers of this movie. The bus in the photo has white painted rims. No MBTA buses have white painted rims,” he said in an email.
By recreating a likeness of the T, along with using its logo on both the vehicle and employee clothing, the filmmakers may have violated the transit agency’s filming policy. Pesaturo would not immediately confirm that, however. According to the MBTA’s website, the transit authority has the right to protect its image and its logos, both of which aren’t depicted too positively, what with a person getting hit by by the bus as the operator continues to drive.
While the T acknowledges that it’s common for it to pop up in movies because it “plays an essential role in everyday life in Boston, as well as being a prominent and functional figure,” the business policy section of the MBTA’s website clearly states that any filming, videotaping, or photography “that depicts the MBTA must not portray the authority in a negative light.”
This includes, but is not limited to, violent content, sexual activity and assault. Furthermore, any attempt to portray public transportation as unsafe or dangerous in any way will not be permitted.
When asked if the MBTA could seek legal recourse, or ask the studio to pull the scene from the film, officials merely said that staff would continue to locate any records pertaining to R.I.P.D “before doing anything else.”
You can watch the full movie trailer below. The trailer aired during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday: