Trust us, we know what we’re do­ing

Ex­pect they con­spicously didn’t. Fol­low­ing on from the re­cent 20th Cen­tury Fox fake-news con­tro­versy, Roe McDer­mott rounds up other no­to­ri­ous film mar­ket­ing dis­as­ters.

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In Fe­bru­ary, 20th Cen­tury Fox were forced to apol­o­gise for dis­sem­i­nat­ing fake news sto­ries about Trump in an ef­fort to pro­mote A

Cure For Well­ness. The con­tro­versy sur­rounded about half-a-dozen web­sites cre­ated by back­ers of the film, shar­ing fic­tional, click-bait style news sto­ries in­clud­ing tales about Trump se­cretly meet­ing with Vladimir Putin, Trump ban­ning vac­ci­na­tions, and Trump re­fus­ing to send aid to a &al­i­for­nia dis­as­ter area.

There was no hint the sto­ries were made up, and read­ers were en­cour­aged to send ob­jec­tions about the pur­ported ac­tions, us­ing the movie promo hash­tag #ACureForWell­ness. Upon dis­cov­er­ing that the sto­ries were false and merely a movie cam­paign, 20th Cen­tury Fox re­ceived a ma­jor back­lash from the me­dia and on so­cial me­dia.

“In rais­ing aware­ness for our films,” a state­ment from the stu­dio said, “we do our best to push the bound­aries of tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing in or­der to cre­atively ex­press our mes­sage to con­sumers. In this case, we got it wrong. The dig­i­tal cam­paign was in­ap­pro­pri­ate on ev­ery level.”

The cam­paign would have been ir­re­spon­si­ble at any time, but given that Pres­i­dent Trump’s favourite ac­cu­sa­tion against the me­dia and new ral­ly­ing cry is “fake news”, it seems par­tic­u­larly ill-timed and dam­ag­ing.

How­ever, it’s far from the only film mar­ket­ing dis­as­ter that Hol­ly­wood has in­flicted upon the world.

In 1993, Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger was star­ring in Shane Black’s smart, genre-lam­poon­ing Last Ac­tion

Hero, and it should have been box-of­fice gold. Colombia Pic­tures went all out on their mar­ket­ing stunts, erect­ing a gen­uinely ter­ri­fy­ing gi­ant in­flat­able Sch­warzeneg­ger in the mid­dle of Times Square. The snarling mon­ster-man was also bran­dish­ing a bun­dle of dy­na­mite – a fact deemed ever-so-slightly in­sen­si­tive be­cause it was erected three days af­ter the 1993 World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing. Fol­low­ing wide­spread out­rage, the bun­dle of dy­na­mite was re­placed with a badge, but it was still hugely un­pop­u­lar, and even­tu­ally ex­iled to a barge in the ocean. Mil­lions of dol­lars, lit­er­ally put out to sea.

Even worse were the ac­tions taken by a Mis­souri cin­ema, who de­cided to hire a fake gun­man wear­ing full tac­ti­cal gear to storm a screen­ing of Iron Man 3. Though the cin­ema thought this was a clear nod to S.H.I.E.L.D, au­di­ence mem­bers weren’t in on the joke – un­sur­pris­ing see­ing as the stunt took place less than a year af­ter the mass shoot­ing in Aurora at a screen­ing of The Dark Knight. Sev­eral ter­ri­fied calls were made to 911, and Jef­fer­son City po­lice ar­rived on the scene, ready to deal with an ac­tive shooter. The cin­ema is­sued a luke­warm apol­ogy.

Then there’s Gone With The Wind, the epic Civil War drama that’s widely re­garded as one of great­est films of all time. The pre­miere took place in At­lanta, and the city wel­comed the film’s stars with wild cel­e­bra­tions and open arms – ex­cept, that is, the film’s black cast mem­bers, who weren’t al­lowed to come. Seg­re­ga­tion laws in At­lanta meant that the ac­tors couldn’t at­tend the pre­miere of their own film, in­clud­ing Hat­tie McDaniel, who won an Os­car for her role. An exception was made for sev­eral black choir mem­bers who were in­vited to sing – but only as part of a “South­ern Plan­ta­tion” pageant that re­quired them to per­form while dressed as slaves.

And who could for­get A Belfast

Story di­rec­tor Nathan Todd, who de­cided to pro­mote his film about paramil­i­taries in North­ern Ire­land by send­ing out a pro­mo­tional pack that in­cluded a bala­clava, nails and a roll of duct tape? The move was called “the most dis­taste­ful free­bie ever” and sev­eral film crit­ics boy­cotted it.

See, 20th Cen­tury Fox? It could be worse. %ut only Must.


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