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Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion

Besides the ability of movies have to entertain audiences, the medium has a distinct ability to provoke and inform as well. For the time being, people all over the world are following the news about the recent coronavirus outbreak. The fear-inducing television broadcasts and headlines seem to be reminding cinephiles of Steven Soderbergh’s movie Contagion considering the over eight-year-old thriller has surged to the front of the iTunes charts in the past week.

2011’s Contagion became the No. 10 most sold movie on iTunes on Tuesday following a Google search spike surrounding the film in the past week. Interest for the movie rose 89% since January 20 (per Google Trends) as over 6000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide.

As of Wednesday, Contagion has dropped to No. 15, but it’s certainly holding its own among recent releases in the top 20, such as Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, Doctor Sleep and Hustlers along with award season contenders Parasite and Joker.

The ensemble sci-fi thriller starring Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law and Kate Winslet follows Gwyneth Paltrow’s Beth as she returns to the United States from China with a deadly virus she passes off as jet lag. Within 24 hours, Beth and her son die from the virus, leaving Matt Damon’s husband/father character helpless and devastated.

Contagion then follows the global crisis as it continues to affect people and wreak havoc across the world as epidemiologists try to find a cure. Five cases of coronavirus were recently confirmed in the United States in Chicago, Illinois; Everett, Washington; and Phoenix, Arizona, along with in Orange and Los Angeles County, California.

The five affected are in isolation in hospitals, and the CDC and airports across the U.S. are attempting to control the situation from escalating. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, and has already killed over 100 people.

Patients of the virus should have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing and either recent travel from the Chinese city or contact with a suspected or confirmed case. Symptoms can surface between two to 14 days of exposure. China’s movie theaters have already shut down following the outbreak during a hefty box office weekend for the county. Disney Parks also temporarily closed its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Contagion opened in September 2011 to positive reviews and a global box office haul of $136.5 million. Warner Bros and Participant Media launched a social awareness campaign in concert with the film’s release about taking steps to avoid catching a virus. The film’s marketing included anxiety-inducing tag lines on its posters such as “Nothing spreads like fear” and “Don’t talk to anyone. Don’t touch anyone.”

Contagion is currently available to buy and rent on iTunes, Amazon and so forth.

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