This weekend, if you want a dose of freaky horror, you could buy a ticket to “A Cure For Wellness” (though I don’t recommend it). The movie follows a young man who visits a Swiss wellness spa, only to learn that the curative waters hold some dark and sinister secrets, which sounds like an easy enough premise with which to market a movie. And certainly, the trailers and TV spots have done a fine job of highlighting director Gore Verbinski‘s bold visual approach and the general creepiness of the story. But it seems that 20th Century Fox are embracing the whole “fake” angle of the storyline just a little too much.
Buzzfeed reveals that the studio launched a handful of fake news sites, which feature “articles” about the movie…..along with actual fake news, to promote the picture. And Fox doesn’t shy away from their approach.
” ‘A Cure for Wellness’ is a movie about a ‘fake’ cure that makes people sicker,” a spokesperson told the site. “As part of this campaign, a ‘fake’ wellness site healthandwellness.co was created and we partnered with a fake news creator to publish fake news.”
Fox didn’t reveal which publisher they were working with, or share any feedback about concerns that some of the fake stories had gone viral. I suppose they’re taking the tack that any publicity is good publicity, however, several of the fake news sites have already been pulled (though Salt Lake City Guardian, NY Morning Post, and The Indianapolis Gazette are still live).
Ethical concerns aside, this seems like a pretty terrible way to promote a film, and I can’t imagine anyone stumbling across the fake wellness site, becoming aware that it’s essentially an advertorial, and then deciding to go see the movie. But then again, here I am writing about “A Cure For Wellness,” so maybe this all worked out in Fox’s favor in the end.