Thanks to this year’s nightmarish events, director Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller Contagion has become a lot more relevant than anyone ever wanted it to be. Well, it’s not over yet, as Soderbergh has now revealed that he is planning to make a “philosophical” sequel to the harrowing movie alongside Scott Burns, who served as screenwriter on Contagion.
“I’ve got a project in development that Scott Burns is working with me on, that’s a kind of philosophical sequel to ‘Contagion,’ but in a different context. You’ll kind of look at the two of them as kind of paired, but very different hair colors. So, Scott and I had been talking about, ‘So, what’s the next iteration of a ‘Contagion’-type story?’ We have been working on that; we should probably hot-foot it a little bit.”
What this means exactly is largely unknown, but the movie does not sound like it will be a direct sequel to Contagion, but rather a separate story that touches on similar themes and ideas. No doubt this spiritual sequel will find humanity dealing once again with another grounded global disaster. Hopefully this time the events of the movie won’t be so prescient.
Released in 2011 and inspired by a combination of the 2002 outbreak of SARS and the 2009 flu pandemic, Contagion concerns the spread of a fictional virus that is transmitted by respiratory droplets and fomites (so maybe not so fictional}, and the attempts by medical researchers and public health officials to identify and contain the disease. This runs parallel to the loss of social order and the introduction of a vaccine to halt its spread. Scary.
The movie begins with Beth Emhoff returning to Minnesota from a Hong Kong business trip, who attributes her sudden feeling of malaise to jet lag. However, two days later, Beth is dead, and doctors tell her shocked husband that they have no idea what killed her. Soon, many others start to exhibit the same symptoms, and a global pandemic explodes. The movie is comprised of several interacting plot lines and makes use of the multi-narrative “hyperlink cinema” style, popularized in several of Soderbergh’s movies.
Contagion was very well-received at the time, with critics praising the depth of research that had gone into production in order to make the situation feel so realistic. Of course, who knew how right they were. The movie grossed $136.5 million against its $60 million budget, and since found new life amidst the current circumstances.
Contagion features a stellar ensemble cast including Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Sanaa Lathan, and Jude Law as a blogger who fans the flames of paranoia.
Earlier this year, Law discussed the relevance and renewed popularity of Contagion, saying that the experience of working on the movie had prepared him for 2020. “There was absolutely the sense that this was going to happen,” the actor said. “The great scientists on set with us who had worked with Scott [Z. Burns] the writer and [director] Steven [Soderbergh] were very learned and experienced individuals who knew what to expect. And they all said to us that this was going to happen – and it was a case of when rather than if.”
This comes to us courtesy of The Happy Sad Confused podcast.