Good buzz has been building for Steve Soderberg’s new movie Contagion, and it proves Soderberg can handle a wide variety of stories well as a filmmaker.
Of course, it also shows he shouldn’t retire, because he’s clearly still got some good movies left in him.
This film definitely boasts a very effective ad campaign ("Don’t Talk to Anyone, Don’t Touch Anyone"). Plus, because of Soderberg’s cachet as a filmmaker who can straddle the edgier, indie filmmaking world while also delivering big mainstream movies like Ocean’s 11, actors love him, and he can afford to hire the best.
Contagion boasts a star-studded lineup of Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwenyth Platrow, and Matt Damon, fighting off a deadly outbreak. In fact, it reminds me a bit of the old school IrwinAllen disaster films that had bigall star casts like The Poseidon Adventure, and my personal favorite, The Towering Inferno.
It also makes you think this could possibly help The Stand at Warner Brothers if Contagion is indeed a hit. Whenever something’s hot at the box office, everyone in the industry usually jumps on it, or like Christopher McQuarrie, screenwriter of The Usual Suspects once said, what else does Hollywood do except try to jump on the boat they just missed.
McQuarrie tried to push an Alexander the Great movie through for years to no avail, then once Gladiator became a hit, I think about four Alexander movies went into development, including McQuarrie’s with Martin Scorsese directing. (Like a lot of movies announced in Hollywood, it was never made, and with Oliver Stone’s Alexander flopping, it will probably be years before anyone tries his story again).
So I definitely hope Contagion will help grease the wheels with The Stand, which has the Harry Potter team of director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves on board.
Still, it is also a risky, big budget proposition in that it’s a several part story, and a pretty dark story as well about most of the world being wiped out by a disease, and the last survivors congregating together for the ultimate showdown between good and evil.
I sure hope somebody at Warner Brothers has at least read the Cliff Notes before some chucklehead studio exec realizes it’s not gonna be another Harry Potter.
Again, going by Hollywood logic, here’s hoping disease films suddenly having heat will move one of Stephen King’s great epics to the silver screen.