When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, several members of the scientific community were not exactly surprised. Many had known for quite some time that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when—among them Ian Lipkin, a renowned “virus hunter” and epidemiologist who consulted on Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. The 2011 film, scripted by Scott Z. Burns, experienced a huge resurgence in popularity in the early days of the pandemic, back when we were naively fawning over puzzles and still capable of finding some novelty in the situation. There was (and is) an obviously cathartic appeal to revisiting Soderbergh’s film, from the timely narrative to the schadenfreude in the Gwyneth Paltrow of it all. The filmmaker may be attempting a repeat performance of sorts, as Soderbergh has revealed that he’s working on a “philosophical” sequel to Contagion.
During an appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Soderbergh announced that he’s collaborating with Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns on the new film, which explores similar territory “in a different context”:
You’ll kind of look at the two of them as kind of paired, but very different hair colors. So, Scott and I had been talking about, ‘So, what’s the next iteration of a Contagion-type story?’ We have been working on that; we should probably hot-foot it a little bit.
Yeah, what is the next iteration of a Contagion-type story? How do you escalate from a global pandemic? Where is there to go, really, but Roland Emmerich territory?