‘Contagion’ surges to the top of the charts in light of COVID-19

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Contagion has gained popularity over the past few weeks as people have been self quarantining due to COVID-19.

Evelyn Robertson

In recent months, the world has been struck by the coronavirus (COVID-19). This particular strain of the virus, not previously identified in humans, causes respiratory illnesses with symptoms similar to the common cold or flu, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

As more people become quarantined, some have taken it upon themselves to become  entertained, or even informed to an extent, by watching movies, listening to podcasts and reading books surrounding viral outbreaks with apocalyptic themes. 

With theaters closed and a large amount of the population working from home, the demand for streaming services has gone through the roof. Over the past few weeks, these streaming services have seen a spike in the views for apocalyptic, pandemic and viral outbreak movies. 

Steven Soderbergh’s film, ‘Contagion’, has been in high demand amid the current pandemic. The plot of the film surrounds the characters finding themselves in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, things turn from bad to worse in a matter of days as the unknown virus begins to kill those who have contracted it. 

This film exhibits people’s fears for what may come as a result of COVID-19, and the views it has raked in in the past week reflect the booming demand for the film. ‘Contagion’ is now ranked the second highest movie in the Warner Bros. catalog, it is currently at number 21 on Google Play and the film has also surged to the top of the iTunes charts with more people purchasing the film now than in the past few years. Out of the ten most-rented movies on the iTunes’ store currently, Contagion is the only one of them that was made almost a decade ago. The similarities between this film and the current situation everyone is facing is the main reason why the film has surged to the top of the charts in a week’s time.

Starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow, the movie follows the character Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) as she returns to the United States from Hong Kong as patient zero. Her character is the first to suffer the symptoms of the virus that will soon spread across the world, only to be brushed off by Emhoff as a bad case of jet lag. 

Within the film, there are montages of contact from person to person: bumping into someone’s shoulder at the airport, coughing or sneezing in public and handing money from one infected person to the next unsuspecting victim. These are ways in which the virus easily spreads from person to person, similarly to COVID-19. 

The movie paints a clear picture of how viruses can spread, and the effects it will have on the entire planet and millions of people. ‘Contagion’ sets the proper tone for how serious a pandemic or even outbreaks on a smaller scale should be treated. This film does not sugarcoat the harsh realities of an outbreak of a virus with the capability to take the lives of millions, which is exactly what happens within the movie. Its sudden rise to popularity should be a warning to all viewers to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously because lives are at risk.