Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wolfgang Petersen|
|Produced by||Gail Katz|
|Written by||Laurence Dworet|
Robert Roy Pool
|Based on||The Hot Zone|
by Richard Preston
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||Neil Travis|
Punch Productions, inc.
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|March 10, 1995|
|Box office||$189.8 million|
Outbreak is a 1995 American medical disaster film directed by Wolfgang Petersen and based on Richard Preston's nonfiction book The Hot Zone. It 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, Motaba, in Zaire and later in a small town in the United States. It is primarily set in the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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, contagious disease.
The film, released on March 10, 1995, was a box-office success and Spacey won two awards for his performance. A real-life outbreak of the Ebola virus was occurring in Zaire when the film was released.
In 1967, a virus called Motaba, which causes a deadly fever, is discovered in the African jungle. To keep the virus a secret, U.S. Army officers Donald McClintock and William Ford destroy the camp where soldiers were infected. Twenty-eight years later, Colonel Sam Daniels, a USAMRIID virologist, is sent to investigate an outbreak in Zaire. He and his crew—Lieutenant Colonel Casey Schuler and new recruit Major Salt—gather information and return to the United States. Ford, now a brigadier general and Daniels' superior officer, dismisses the latter's fears that the virus will spread.
Betsy, a white-headed capuchin monkey that is host to the virus, is smuggled into the country. James "Jimbo" Scott, a worker at an animal testing laboratory, is infected when he steals Betsy to sell on the black market. Jimbo fails to sell Betsy to Rudy Alvarez, a pet-store owner in the California town of Cedar Creek. After releasing the monkey in the woods of Palisades, he develops symptoms on a flight to Boston and infects his girlfriend, Alice. Their illness is investigated by Dr. Roberta Keough, a CDC scientist and Daniels' ex-wife. Jimbo, Alice, and Rudy die, but Keough determines that no one else in Boston was infected.
A hospital technician in Cedar Creek is infected when he accidentally breaks the vial of Rudy's blood. The virus mutates into a strain capable of spreading like influenza, allowing a number of people to be infected in a movie theater. Daniels flies to Cedar Creek against Ford's orders, joining Keough's team with Schuler and Salt. As they begin a search for the monkey, the Army quarantines the town and imposes martial law. Schuler is infected when his suit tears, and Keough accidentally sticks herself with a contaminated needle.
When Ford provides an experimental serum, Daniels realizes that he was aware of the virus before the outbreak. He confronts Ford, who admits that the original Motaba strain was actually a military bioweapon; the 1967 outbreak in Africa had in fact been a test-run of the virus, which subsequently infected the local monkey population despite Ford's and McClintock's attempt to halt its spread and cover up their actions. Daniels learns about Operation Clean Sweep, a plan for the military to contain the virus by bombing Cedar Creek. McClintock, now a major general, plans to use the operation to conceal the virus's existence.
To prevent Daniels from finding a cure, McClintock orders him arrested for carrying the virus. Daniels escapes, and he and Salt fly a helicopter to the ship which carried Betsy. Daniels obtains a picture of Betsy and releases it to the media; a Palisades resident, Mrs. Jeffries, realizes that her daughter Kate has been playing with Betsy in their yard and calls the CDC. Daniels and Salt arrive at the Jeffries' house, and Salt tranquilizes Betsy after Kate coaxes her out of hiding. When he learns from Daniels about Betsy's capture, Ford delays the bombing.
On their return flight, Daniels and Salt are chased by McClintock in another helicopter, and Salt fires two missiles into the trees to deceive him into thinking that they crashed. In Cedar Creek, Salt mixes Betsy's antibodies with Ford's serum to create an antiserum; although Schuler has died, they save Keough. McClintock returns to base and resumes Operation Clean Sweep, refusing to listen to Ford. Daniels and Salt fly a helicopter in the path of the bomber. With Ford's help, Daniels persuades the bomber's flight crew to detonate the bomb over water and spare the town. Before McClintock can order another bombing, Ford relieves him of command and orders his arrest. Daniels and Keough reconcile, and Cedar Creek's residents are cured.
- Dustin Hoffman as Colonel Sam Daniels
- Rene Russo as Roberta "Robby" Keough
- Morgan Freeman as Brigadier General Billy Ford
- Donald Sutherland as Major General Donald "Donnie" McClintock
- Kevin Spacey as Lieutenant Colonel Casey Schuler
- Cuba Gooding Jr. as Major Salt
- Patrick Dempsey as James "Jimbo" Scott
- Zakes Mokae as Dr. Benjamin Iwabi
- Malick Bowens as Dr. Raswani
- Susan Lee Hoffman as Dr. Lisa Aronson
- Benito Martinez as Dr. Julio Ruiz
- Bruce Jarchow as Dr. Mascelli
- Leland Hayward III as Henry Seward
- Daniel Chodos as Rudy Alvarez
- Dale Dye as Lieutenant Colonel Briggs
- Kara Keough as Kate Jeffries
- Gina Menza as Mrs. Jeffries
- Per Didrik Fasmer as Mr. Jeffries
- Maury Sterling as Sandman One
- Michael Emanuel as Sandman One co-pilot
- Kellie Overbey as Alice
- J. T. Walsh as White House Chief of Staff
Scenes in "Cedar Creek" were filmed in Ferndale, California, where tanks and helicopters were a common feature of daily life during nearly two months of filming. Other locations used were Dugway Proving Ground and Kauai.
Outbreak topped the U.S. box-office list its opening weekend with earnings of $13,420,387, and spent three weeks at number one before Tommy Boy's release. The film, which grossed $67,659,560 domestically and $122,200,000 internationally, was a commercial success.
Outbreak received mixed reviews. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 59% of 44 critics gave the film a positive review for a rating average of 5.6 out of 10. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three-and-a-half out of four stars, calling Outbreak's premise "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 enjoyed the film's plot: "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."
David Denby wrote for New York magazine that although the opening scenes were well-done, "somewhere in the middle ... Outbreak falls off a cliff" and becomes "lamely conventional". Janet Maslin of The New York Times also found the film's subject compelling but its treatment ineffective: "The film's shallowness also contributes to the impression that no problem is too thorny to be solved by movie heroics."
- New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Kevin Spacey – Best Supporting Actor (Won)
- Society of Texas Film Critics Awards: Kevin Spacey – Best Supporting Actor (Won) – Also includes Spacey's work in Se7en and The Usual Suspects
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- Natale, Richard (April 4, 1995). "Weekend Box Office: 'Tommy Boy' Tops a Weak Field". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
- Outbreak at Box Office Mojo
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- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
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- Kempley, Rita (March 10, 1995). "'Outbreak' (R)". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- Denby, David (March 20, 1995). "The Lukewarm Zone". New York Magazine. 28 (12): 60. ISSN 0028-7369.
- Maslin, Janet (March 10, 1995). "Film Review: The Hero is Hoffman, The Villain a Virus". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
- "Awards 1995". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
- Levy, Abraham (December 30, 1995). "Texas film critics give 'Suspects' top honors". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2010-12-17. (Subscription required (help)).
- "The Society of Texas Film Critics 1995 Awards". Austin Chronicle. 15 (18). January 5, 1996. Retrieved 2015-01-29.