20th Century Fox is taking a different approach to marketing its upcoming film, A Cure for Wellness, by using fake news to promote the psychological thriller. A handful of websites posted articles with made-up stories, including Lady Gaga paying tribute to Muslims during her Super Bowl halftime show and Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin secretly meeting at a Swiss health spa. The articles referenced the movie, using names and places associated with the film.
A Cure for Wellness, directed by Gore Verbinski, follows a young executive (Dane DeHaan) who is sent to an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps. Upon arriving, he soon suspects that the miraculous treatments are not what they seem.
The fake news articles were met with criticism on social media, with Fox and Regency responding Monday in a statement: “A Cure for Wellness is a movie about a ‘fake’ cure that makes people sicker. 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. As our movie’s antagonist says, ‘There is a sickness inside us. And only when we know what ails us, can we hope to find the cure.'”
Among the sites that posted the fake news included, Sacramento Dispatch, Salt Lake City Guardian, Houston Leader, NY Morning Post and Indianapolis Gazette. As of Monday afternoon, the articles redirected readers to the movie’s official site, acureforwellness.com.
The film, which opens Friday, has received generally negative reviews and tracking is not good. It’s expected to open in the $6M-$8M range.