Amid coronavirus scare in China, here are top Hollywood films on virus outbreaks

Ace Hollywood filmmaker Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion" is suddenly back in the spotlight, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

IANS | Updated on: Thursday, January 30, 2020, 05:26 PM IST


Ace Hollywood filmmaker Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion", which focussed on the spread of a mysterious virus transmitted by fomites, had released almost a decade ago, but the 2011 film is suddenly back in the spotlight, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The movie, which bears uncanny parallels with recent real-life headlines, has popped up on iTunes's Top 10 Movie Rental List over the past few days, reports "Contagion" stars an ensemble cast comprising Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Jennifer Ehle, and narrates the story of an outbreak through multiple plot lines.

Later this year, Nigel Hartwell's "The Epidemic", starring Eric Roberts, will begin with a meteor crashing into the Earth's crust, causing extreme devastation, following which an unexplained plague spreads and turns a town's population into zombies.

Hollywood has often turned to the subject of virus attack and outbreaks to create box-office winners. IANS takes a look at some of the best films in the genre:

Outbreak: German filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen's 1995 medical thriller continues to be one of the most accomplished efforts in the genre. Flaunting a powerhouse cast comprising Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kevin Spacey and Donald Sutherland, the film focuses on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus called Motaba in the African nation of Zaire and goes on to surface in a small town in the United States.

World War Z: Brad Pitt not only acted in the 2013 zombie pandemic film but also served as a producer. In September 2013, Pitt was asked whether or not a sequel to "World War Z" was in the works. He had told "We're certainly talking about it, yes. We have so many ideas on the table from the time we spent developing this thing and figuring out how the zombie worlds work," Pitt said. "We gotta get the script right first to determine if we go further."


I Am Legend: Hollywood superstar Will Smith was at the peak of his career when he did this 2007 film, directed by Francis Lawrence. Smith plays a US Army virologist in the post-apocalyptic action thriller. Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York struggles to find a cure.


Resident Evil series: The series began with "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" (2004), its story continued with "Resident Evil: Extinction" (2007), and then "Resident Evil: Afterlife" (2010), "Resident Evil: Retribution" (2012), and closed with "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" (2016). The films told the story of Alice (Milla Jovovich), who is a former security specialist and covert operative who battles the Umbrella Corporation, whose bioweapons have triggered a zombie apocalypse.

28 Days Later: Danny Boyle's 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film starred Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Christopher Eccleston. The accidental release of a contagious virus threatens to destroy civilisation even as the protagonists cope with the destruction of the life they once knew while evading those infected by the virus. The film redefined the zombie horror genre and was critically and commercially acclaimed. It was followed by a 2007 sequel, "28 Weeks Later".


Blindness: The 2008 film, an adaptation of the 1995 novel of the same name by Portuguese author Jose Saramago, was about a society suffering an epidemic of blindness. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, the film had Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo fronting its cast. The film was special to Ruffalo, who learned in 2001 that he had a brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. In "Blindness," he played a character who is made helpless by an illness and whose experiences were "magnified, amplified and retooled" variations of his own, had reported. Meirelles had said that Ruffalo had told him: " 'There was a time I couldn't button my shirt or buckle my shoes. Sometimes I was going in the street and I was lost. I had to call home and was 100 percent dependent on my wife. And I was irritated for having her help me with anything. And that, said Meirelles, the Brazilian director, "is exactly what happens to" Ruffalo's character in the film.

Maggie: Action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, known for starring in big budget films like "The Terminator", picked this 2015 independent thriller about a viral pandemic and surprised the audience. Schwarzenegger had earlier said in the film's production notes: "When I read it, I knew I had to do it. It is more vulnerable than any role I have played, more real, more emotional. You're used to seeing me play the ubermensch, the action hero bullets can't seem to hit.

Doomsday: Rhona Mitra, British actress of Bengali-Indian origin, starred in this 2008 release directed by Neil Marshall. The story takes place in the future in Scotland, which has been quarantined because of a deadly virus. It was reportedly conceived by Marshall based on the idea of futuristic soldiers facing medieval knights.

Carriers: Starring "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" actress Emily VanCamp and Chris Pine of "Wonder Woman" fame, the 2009 film directed by David Pastor and Alex Pastor was about four friends fleeing a viral pandemic. They soon learn they are more dangerous than any virus.

Pandemic: The 2016 science fiction thriller film, helmed by John Suits, had Rachel Nichols playing a doctor who leads a group to find survivors of a worldwide pandemic.

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Published on: Thursday, January 30, 2020, 05:26 PM IST