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An international traveler reaches into the snack bowl at an airport bar before passing her credit card to a waiter. A business meeting begins with a round of handshakes. A man coughs on a crowded bus... One contact. One instant. And a lethal virus is transmitted.
When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minneapolis from business in Hong Kong, what she thought was jet lag takes a virulent turn. Two days later, she's dead in the ER and the doctors tell her shocked and grieving husband (Matt Damon) they have no idea why.
Soon, others exhibit the same mysterious symptoms: hacking coughs and fever, followed by seizure, brain hemorrhage...and ultimately, death. In Minneapolis, Chicago, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong, the numbers quickly multiply: one case becomes four, then sixteen, then hundreds, thousands, as the contagion sweeps across all borders, fueled by the countless human interactions that make up the course of an average day. A global pandemic explodes.
At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers mobilize to break the code of a unique biological pathogen as it continues to mutate. Deputy Director Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) tries to allay the growing panic despite his own personal concerns, and must send a brave young doctor (Kate Winslet) into harm's way. At the same time, amid a rising tide of suspicion over a potential vaccine—and who gets it first—Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) of the World Health Organization works through the network of connections that could lead back to the source of what they're dealing with.
As the death toll escalates and people struggle to protect themselves and their loved ones in a society breaking down, one activist blogger (Jude Law) claims the public isn't getting the truth about what's really going on, and sets off an epidemic of paranoia and fear as infectious as the virus itself.
Academy Award® winner Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic") directs the global thriller "Contagion," bringing together a stellar international ensemble cast led by Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose," "Inception"); Academy Award® winner Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting," the "Bourne" films); Academy Award® nominee Laurence Fishburne ("What's Love Got to Do With It," "The Matrix"); Academy Award® nominee Jude Law ("Cold Mountain," "Sherlock Holmes"); Academy Award® winner Gwyneth Paltrow ("Shakespeare in Love," "Iron Man"); and Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet ("The Reader," "Titanic").
Directed by Steven Soderbergh from an original screenplay by Scott Z. Burns ("The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Informant!"), the film also stars Bryan Cranston (AMC's "Breaking Bad"), Jennifer Ehle ("The King's Speech") and Sanaa Lathan ("Alien Vs. Predator"). It is produced by Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher and Gregory Jacobs, with Jeff Skoll, Michael Polaire, Jonathan King and Ricky Strauss serving as executive producers. The creative filmmaking team includes production designer Howard Cummings, Oscar®-winning editor Stephen Mirrione, costume designer Louise Frogley and composer Cliff Martinez.