Playing by the rules may be part of the game, but on the sidelines, anything goes when it comes to marketing a new horror film.
From creating fake news stories to airing a fake Super Bowl commercial, the producers of “A Cure for Wellness” are writing a brand new playbook on film marketing and some critics are not taking it well.
“The two film companies acknowledged Monday that they hired a fake news creator to build websites and stories on a variety of subjects. Many were tied to Trump. Others were politically charged: citing a purported Utah bill to jail and publicly shame women who received abortions and referring to a ‘groundbreaking study’ on the mental health challenges of liberals. The made-up stories had only oblique references to director Gore Verbinski’s film.” – Variety
They went so far as to create several fake regional newspapers; Houston Leader, Sacramento Dispatch, NY Morning Post, Indy Gazette and the Salt Lake City Guardian; a fake Senator Bradley Kennedy complete with fake campaign website and a twitter account from which to promote the Senator’s agenda.
— Bradley Kennedy (@SenBradKennedy) February 12, 2017
When assaulted by critics of fake news, Regency Enterprises, one of the film’s producers responded with a public 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.”
Then came 30 seconds of intensely fake film marketing via the Super Bowl…
What’s left but a fake drug commercial? Can we sell Super Bowl fans A Cure for Wellness? It begins like any other pharmaceutical ploy: “Are you tired of not feeling well? Take the cure and take back your life. Side effects include skin eruptions, severe hallucinations and murderous rage…” encapsulated in 20 more seconds of a rapid descent to hell, rated R.
The spot didn’t make it to the top five 2017 Super Bowl commercials by anmyone’s reckoning but it certainly provides a glimpse of what’s in store for anyone who visits this mysterious wellness center.
Essential film marketing must lead to the hub, a hauntingly beautiful website…
If all of the fakery works as intended, you soon discover… acureforwellness.com, a most serene web world consisting of five beautiful, full screen vistas set to music by Benjamin Wallfisch. Each picture-page poses the same simple command, “Begin Meditation.” You may choose to invoke the healing powers of Water, Earth or Air in a guided meditation.
If past performance is any indicator of future benefits this weekend should be a blockbuster. The film’s director Gore Verbinski is credited with directing the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, which cumulatively grossed over $2.6 billion.
“A Cure for Wellness” will be released in theaters on Friday, February 17, 2017 courtesy of 20th Century Fox.