Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wolfgang Petersen|
|Produced by||Gail Katz
|Written by||Laurence Dworet
Robert Roy Pool
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||Neil Travis|
Punch Productions, inc.
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release dates||March 10, 1995|
|Running time||127 minutes|
Outbreak is a 1995 American medical disaster film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman and co-stars Cuba Gooding, Jr., Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland and Patrick Dempsey.
The film focuses on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus called Motaba in Zaire and later in a small town in the United States. Its primary settings are government disease control centers USAMRIID and the CDC, and the fictional town of Cedar Creek, California. Outbreak's plot speculates how far military and civilian agencies might go to contain the spread of a deadly contagion.
The film was released on March 10, 1995 and proved a box office success. The film was nominated for various awards but failed to garner any major award nominations. It also raised various "what-if" scenarios: media outlets began to question what the government would really do in a similar situation and if the CDC has plans in case an outbreak ever does occur. A real-life outbreak of the Ebola virus occurred in Zaire only a few months after the film was released.
Motaba, a fictional virus which causes a deadly fever, is discovered in the African jungle in 1967. To keep the secret of the virus, two US Army officers, Donald McClintock (Donald Sutherland) and William Ford (Morgan Freeman), destroy the camp where it was found.
Twenty-eight years later, in 1995, the virus resurfaces in Zaire. Colonel Sam Daniels (Dustin Hoffman), a USAMRIID virologist, is sent to investigate. He and his crew, Lieutenant Colonel Casey Schuler (Kevin Spacey), and new recruit Major Salt (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) gain information about the virus and return to the United States, where Daniels asks his superior, now-Brigadier General William Ford, to put out an alert. Ford knows that the virus is not new, but he tells Daniels it is unlikely to show up. Meanwhile, one of the host animals, a white-headed capuchin monkey named Betsy, is illegally brought to the United States. James "Jimbo" Scott (Patrick Dempsey), an employee at the Biotest animal holding facility, steals Betsy and takes her to Cedar Creek, California, to sell on the black market. During the trip, Jimbo is infected with the virus.
Jimbo unsuccessfully tries to sell Betsy to Rudy Alvarez (Daniel Chodos), a pet store owner--who is also infected with Motaba--before releasing the monkey into the woods. Jimbo starts to show signs of infection while flying to Boston, where he gets off the plane and kisses his girlfriend Alice (Kellie Overbey), infecting her. They are both hospitalized. A CDC scientist and Daniels's ex-wife, Dr. Roberta Keough (Rene Russo), investigates the infections. Jimbo, Alice, and Rudy die from the virus, but Keough establishes that no one else in Boston was infected.
Meanwhile, the technicians at a Cedar Creek hospital run tests on Rudy's blood. But Henry (Leland Hayward III), one of the technicians, accidentally breaks a vial, splattering the contents, infecting and killing him. The virus mutates into a new strain, capable of spreading like flu, and numerous Cedar Creek citizens are exposed to Motaba. Daniels learns of the infection and flies to Cedar Creek alongside Schuler and Salt, against Ford's orders, joining Keough's team.
As Daniels and his team begin a search for the host animal, a state of martial law is declared in Cedar Creek, and the U.S. Army has quarantined the town to contain the outbreak. During their research, Schuler is infected when his suit tears, and Keough follows after a convulsing Schuler accidentally stabs her with a needle. A mystery serum, E-1101, is introduced to those suffering from Motaba. Daniels soon realizes that the serum is not experimental, but was designed to cure Motaba, and that Ford knew about the virus beforehand. However, the serum does not help the residents of Cedar Creek, who are infected by a mutated strain. Daniels confronts Ford, who admits that he withheld information on the virus due to national security and Motaba's potential to be turned into a biological weapon.
Daniels learns from Ford of Operation Clean Sweep, a plan by the military to bomb the town of Cedar Creek, with approval from the President of the United States. Now-Major General Donald McClintock (Donald Sutherland) was Ford's partner at the African camp in 1967 and was responsible for its destruction; he now plans to use the bombing to cover up the virus's existence to advance his evil weapon objective. To prevent Daniels from finding a cure, McClintock has him arrested by implicating Daniels as a carrier of the virus. This leads Daniels and Salt to search for the host animal to save the town. Flying a helicopter to the ship that carried the host animal, Daniels obtains a picture of Betsy and broadcasts it on the news; Mrs. Jeffries (Gina Menza) realizes that this is the animal her daughter Kate (Kara Keough) is playing with in their backyard. She calls the station, and the two men arrive at the family's house. Kate coaxes out Betsy, whom Salt tranquilizes. Learning from Daniels that the host animal is captured, Ford delays the bombing.
Flying back, Daniels and Salt are confronted by McClintock, who also came by helicopter. While McClintock's helicopter chases theirs, Daniels has Salt fire two rockets into the trees to trick McClintock into thinking they crashed. Returning to Cedar Creek, Salt mixes Betsy's antibodies with the E-1101 to create an anti-serum in time to save Keough--but not Schuler, who has already succumbed to the virus. Daniels discovers that Operation Clean Sweep is in progress and becomes aware that McClintock will not call off the bombing. He and Salt take it upon themselves to fly in the way of the bomber, commanded by a pilot with the call sign of Sandman One (Maury Sterling), to stop it. With support from Ford, Daniels is able to stay in the way of the plane long enough to convince Sandman One and his co-pilot (Michael Emanuel) that information was withheld from them. Sandman One detonates the bomb over water instead of the town. Ford, having had enough of McClintock's single-minded obsession, relieves McClintock of command and places him under arrest for withholding information from the President. Daniels and Keough reconcile, and the remaining residents of the town are successfully cured.
Scenes in "Cedar Creek" were filmed in Ferndale, California where tanks and helicopters became a common feature of daily life during the nearly two months of filming. Historic Fernbridge, California and the Avenue of the Giants also featured.
The film opened at #1 upon its opening weekend with $13,420,387 and spent three weeks on top of the US box office, before being capsized by Tommy Boy's release. The film would go on to gross a $67,659,560 domestic total, and with an international $122,200,000, totaled $189,859,560 worldwide. The film is considered a commercial success from its $50 million budget.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half out of four stars, calling it "one of the great scare stories of our time, the notion that deep in the uncharted rain forests, deadly diseases are lurking, and if they ever escape their jungle homes and enter the human bloodstream, there will be a new plague the likes of which we have never seen." Rita Kempley of the Washington Post also praised the film's story, saying, "Outbreak is an absolute hoot thanks primarily to director Wolfgang Petersen's rabid pacing and the great care he brings to setting up the story and its probability."
- ASCAP Award: Top Box Office Film (Won)
- Saturn Award: Best Science Fiction Film (Nominated)
- NAACP Image Award: Cuba Gooding, Jr. – Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Nominated)
- New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Kevin Spacey – Best Supporting Actor (Won) – This nomination also included the films Swimming with Sharks, Se7en, and The Usual Suspects
- Society of Texas Film Critics Awards: Kevin Spacey – Best Supporting Actor (Won) – This nomination also included the films Se7en and The Usual Suspects
- Update: Outbreak of Ebola Viral Hemorrhagic Fever – Zaire, 1995
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- "'Outbreak's' Success Only Goes So Far : Movies: Thriller leads the weekend box office with an estimated $13 million, but it's a steep drop to 'Man' in second.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- "Weekend Box Office : 'Tommy Boy' Tops a Weak Field". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- Outbreak at Box Office Mojo
- Outbreak (1995) – Box office/business
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- Kempley, Rita (March 10, 1995). "'Outbreak' (R)". Washington Post. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- "Awards 1995". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- Levy, Abraham (December 30, 1995). "Texas film critics give 'Suspects' top honors". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved December 17, 2010.
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- Outbreak at the Internet Movie Database
- Outbreak at the TCM Movie Database
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- Outbreak at Box Office Mojo
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