Contagion is a 2011 American science fiction medical thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Jennifer Ehle. The plot of Contagion documents the spread of a virus transmitted by fomites, attempts by medical researchers and public health officials to identify and contain the disease, the loss of social order in a pandemic, and finally the introduction of a vaccine to halt its spread. To follow several interacting plot lines, the film makes use of the multi-narrative "hyperlink cinema" style, popularized in several of Soderbergh's films.
Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns had collaborated on The Informant! (2009). Following that film's release, Burns brought up the idea of producing a medical thriller film depicting the rapid spread of a virus, which was inspired by various pandemics such as the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2009 flu pandemic. To devise an accurate perception of a pandemic event, Burns consulted with representatives of the World Health Organization as well as noted medical experts such as W. Ian Lipkin and Lawrence "Larry" Brilliant. Principal photography started in Hong Kong in September 2010, and continued in Chicago, Atlanta, London, Geneva, and San Francisco until February 2011.
Contagion premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy on September 3, 2011, and went on general release on September 9. The film was well received by critics, who praised the narratives and the performances of various actors and actresses. It was also well received by scientists, who praised its accuracy. Commercially, the film was a moderate box office success. Budgeted at $60 million, Contagion attained $135 million in box office revenue during its theatrical run.
Returning from a Hong Kong business trip, Beth Emhoff has a layover in Chicago to have sex with a former lover before returning to her family in suburban Minneapolis. She appears to have contracted a cold during her trip. Her six-year-old son from a previous marriage, Clark, also becomes symptomatic and is sent home from school. Beth's condition worsens and two days later she collapses with severe seizures. Her husband, Mitch, rushes her to the hospital, but she dies of an unknown cause.