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Did The Onion Predict Contagion’s ‘Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Bird Flu’ Marketing Push?


Conventional wisdom says that, in times of economic uncertainty, audiences will seek the escapist comforts of light, edgeless movies — your Paul Blarts, your Smurfs, your Hangovers. So, as the New York Times wonders today, with a third Great Depression looming, what are the marketers at Warner Bros. to do with this fall’s Contagion, the new Steven Soderbergh movie in which half the world dies from bird flu? Well, they certainly have one pretty good idea! To follow last month’s trailer, wherein we learned that Gwyneth Paltrow’s character — spoiler! — loses her battle with the disease, WB has released this new poster for the film (see it in full here), which features a pale, sweaty, bug-eyed Paltrow fighting for what are presumably her final breaths, promising moviegoers that on September 9 they’ll be able to check their own troubles at the ticket counter and thrill to the sight of the GOOP editrix expiring from H5N1. Marketing crisis averted!

Does any of this strike you as vaguely familiar? If so, maybe you saw last year’s Onion News Network video Iron Man 2 Buzz Heats Up Over Rumors Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Punched In Face,” a fake-news piece that jokingly suggested audiences might be excited to see Paltrow injured onscreen. Maybe they were on to something. Watch the Contagion trailer and the Onion video after the jump.