During CinemaCon, Warner Bros. showed off bits and pieces of their upcoming slate of films before showcasing their summer blockbusters. Steven Soderbergh's Contagion hit the screen long enough to give us a sense of exactly what audiences are in for when this film hits theaters October 21st.
The first thoughts that went through my head after Contagion flew by in the midst of an epic sizzle reel of upcoming movies was Outbreak. One of the best viral outbreak films (zombie apocalypses excluded) in recent memory, this footage had that "government-perspective" to it. But it also showcased a Kate Winslet voiceover and some more personal images that suggest a more emotional movie. The best way to describe the footage is the fear and intensity of Outbreak mashed with the globalization and realism of Children of Men.
It was pretty epic, but felt like half a trailer. Hopefully this means a trailer is on its way, but one guarantee is that the film's scope is huge. It was shot in Hong Kong, Minneapolis, Chicago, China, Dubai, Japan, Switzerland, The United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia and Malaysia and includes a cast of Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne and Gwenyth Paltrow. Given the recent news of Steven Soderbergh's impending retirement from directing, he clearly isn't going out quietly.
To recap the footage shown at CinemaCon, it was mostly quick flashes of each of the major characters in their respective elements - Jude Law in a full-body containment suit strutting down a trashed and deserted city street and Matt Damon walking around a house as if something terrifying is right around the corner.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="380" caption="Jude Law in 'Contagion'."][/caption]
The standout image, though, was a sick Kate Winslet on a hotel room bed asking somebody on the phone for a list of everybody who was in the room over the last 24 hours. There were some shots of a spreading pandemic, maps of infected areas, as well as soldiers patrolling the streets. Overall, it was epic and had a massive scale about it. Winslet's phone call acted as a voice over and shined a light on the rapid rate at which the infected were dying - this movie will surely be a race against the clock.
Soderbergh has dealt with large-scale films before, but never in the way this footage depicted. With Traffic and Ocean's Eleven, he displayed a lot of action taking place in different areas all at once, and made it exciting and entertaining. When the intensity of a global outbreak creates an even more gripping scenario at its core, it should be interesting to see how personal Soderbergh can get with it. His specialty seems to be making each character an individual, while existing within an ensemble.
Needless to say, the footage had many people excited to see more. While the film is still a ways away, a trailer should be on the horizon and more information will soon follow.
Contagion is slated to hit theaters on October 21st, 2011.