Contagion, that 2011 movie about a devastating pandemic, has come back into the zeitgeist in a palpable way because we all apparently love doubling down during our real-life pandemic. Director Steven Soderbergh is joining the club.
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The filmmaker mentioned on the Happy Sad Confused podcast with host Josh Horowitz that he and his Contagion scribe, Scott Z. Burns, are working up what sounds like a spiritual sequel to the movie, rather than a direct follow-up. A rep for Soderbergh could not be reached for comment and a rep for Burns did not immediately have a comment.
"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,” Soderbergh said. “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 hotfoot it a little bit.”
Contagion featured Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law in a story about everyday people, healthcare workers, and government officials dealing with a fictional viral outbreak that ravaged the United States, while the CDC works to develop a vaccine. The film spiked in views on platforms like FandangoNow and iTunes after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. Soderbergh and some of his actors, who worked with scientists and professionals to inform the story and performances, also filmed a COVID PSA.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Soderbergh remarked how fascinating it was "to see the aspects of this narrative play out that we didn’t think about" in the real world with coronavirus. "The sociological behavior, how people have behaved as individuals, as states, as countries — that’s been really fascinating," he said. "And something that very purposely, Scott and I were trying to keep the narrative very focused and we had rules about points of view and what we can see and what we couldn’t see. But wow, there’s a lot of really fascinating human behavior that we didn’t even think about when we were doing this. It’s just a reminder of how deeply irrational we are. When we’re put into some sort of fear-threat space, we become deeply illogical. It’s crazy to witness."
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"'So, what’s the next iteration of a Contagion-type story?’ We have been working on that."
Unlike many of us who spent lockdown binge eating (insert snack of choice) and binge watching (whatever was on Netflix at the time), Soderbergh has kept busy. He wrote a sequel to Sex, Lies, and Videotape; he helped develop Hollywood's new safety guidelines for starting productions during the pandemic; released Let Them All Talk on HBO Max; and he's now producing the 2021 Oscars. This spiritual Contagion sequel seems just par for the course.