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Is 1963's Omicron Variant Film A Real Movie?

It's no secret that the internet can be a hotbed for misinformation, particularly in times of crisis. The combination of apparently unlimited free time and an infinite number of people desperately seeking new information is an irresistible combo for many hoaxsters, who delight in leading large groups of people down any garden paths their imaginations can come up with.

That makes it hard to be able to tell real information from fake, even when it comes to something as (relatively) frivolous as an almost 60-year-old purported film with a title that would come across as ominous and sinister in retrospect: "The Omicron Variant."

A tweet from early December purported to show a poster for a 1963 science-fiction movie "The Omicron Variant," which is the name of the COVID-19 variant that is currently alarming the populace and sweeping the globe. The user implied it was proof of some sort of conspiracy, writing, "coincidence?" The poster has continued to circulate throughout social media in different languages, with many assuming the poster is real. But was there really a movie in 1963 with that title?

No, the poster was faked and there's no such film

A quick IMDb search will show that there is no such film titled "The Omicron Variant." Furthermore, as an AFP Argentina/AFP Canada report clearly shows, the poster itself was altered from another poster for a movie that actually exists: "Phase IV," a killer ant film by famed graphic designer Saul Bass.

Film buffs are familiar with Bass not just from "Phase IV" but from his work on title sequences of several classic films, including "Psycho" by Alfred Hitchcock. Bass's name as well as the names of the cast of "Phase IV" were retained for the "Omicron Variant" poster, so it's extremely clear even beyond a basic eyeball comparison of the two posters which one is real.

But if even that isn't enough to satisfy you, AFP tracked down the creator of the original poster, who didn't intend it to be a hoax at all: "It was just a joke based on the fact that omicron variant sounded like a 70s sci-fi movie. I didn't expect anyone to take it seriously, and I'm very much not an anti-vaxxer," said Becky Cheatle, who originally Photoshopped the image. She also clarified the situation in a tweet, saying "please do not get sick on account of my dumb joke."

So no, there was no film in 1963 called "The Omicron Variant."