The classic USA Today design may be old news, but the paper remains a paper of the future — at least when it comes to movies. Perhaps it was the case that the signature logo was so recognizable, or in the more realistic scenario perhaps there was just some really great product placement going on. Brian Cubbison of The Post-Standard wrote in 2009 explained in a "Future Newspapers" series that "USA Today was the most aggressively marketed newspaper of the 1980s. That newspaper box was shaped liked a television screen on purpose, which was bold for the times." Meanwhile in 2011, when the paper had roles in films like Contagion and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, it won the Lifetime Achievement Award for Product Placement in Brandchannel's Brandcameo Product Placement Awards:
USA Today was one of product placement legend Norm Marshall's first clients in 1983 and he still represents it. Marshall says USA Today has never paid for a placement and gets its roles through a holistic approach to cooperating with filmmakers by having its art department mock up and deliver on-brand, plot-accentuating prop editions.
Here are some of USA Today's most memorable performances.
Back to the Future Part II
They may not have needed roads, but they did need USA Today in 1989's Back to the Future Part II in order for Doc Brown to show Marty McFly at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately, the paper's old design won't make it to October 22, 2015 when it would feature the story: "Martin McFly Junior Arrested For Theft."
The following year came a 2084 USA Today today newspaper box was featured in Paul Verhoeven's brand-laden Total Recall, which originally came out in 1990. (The box is in the bottom left corner.)
Plus, bonus, and perhaps more famously the film also introduced Mars Today. Despite having only been around since 1982, according to Brandchannel, "USA Today was so well known to audiences by 1990 that producers of Total Recall thought a Mars Today joke was prudent."
As the new millenium hit, the movie version got a little bit more high tech. In 2002's Minority Report — which takes place in 2054 — the paper is Daily Prophet-like (or, well, e-reader-like) with moving images.
While not exactly futuristic, it's important to note that the paper also extended into the paranormal realm with 1984's Ghostbusters.
To be fair The Atlantic also made an appearance in the montage.