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‘A Cure for Wellness’ used fake news sites to promote a movie about a fake cure

Clever or irresponsible?


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Feb 14, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 12:14 am CDT

On Super Bowl Sunday, an ad debuted that at first looked like your typical prescription drug commercial, but then slowly revealed itself to be a trailer for the Gore Verbinski film A Cure for Wellness, which opens this Friday. It was a clever hook, but according to BuzzFeed, the film’s promotion also included fake news sites.

The film, which is about a mysterious Swiss facility that offers a bogus cure, has been promoted on five different fake news sites, according to the report. Two of the sites’ domain names were registered on Jan. 14. Reached for comment, a spokesperson confirmed that New Regency and Fox created the fake site and “partnered with a fake news creator to publish fake news.”

Under this new administration, the term “fake news” has gone from what appears on fake news sites to anything you don’t want to believe is true, but in this case fake news appears to be contained to the sites Salt Lake City Guardian, Houston Leader, Sacramento Dispatch, Indianapolis Gazette, and NY Morning Post.

Four of those sites now redirect to, and all of the links to fake stories BuzzFeed cites are now dead, including one about Trump’s 90-day ban on childhood vaccinations.



A Snopes entry proving a Sacramento Dispatch article about Trump refusing federal aid to California false links to an archived page, and up top is an ad for the film.



That story was posted to Facebook and saw a reported 20,000 interactions, with many people sharing it as real. Same with the vaccine story, and one from the Houston Leader about Lady Gaga’s halftime performance featuring a “Muslim tribute.” The Sacramento Dispatch also ran a story about Trump and Putin visiting a Swiss resort before the 2016 election, and to the right of the story is an ad for Vita Acqua, which is also an ad for the film.

Considering bogus news stories have real consequences and are now being used by the White House to create cognitive dissonance, is this clever or wildly irresponsible?

As of Tuesday morning, the film has a 35 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve reached out for comment.

H/T BuzzFeed 

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2017, 12:15 pm CST