Patient Zero (film)

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Patient Zero
Patient Zero poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStefan Ruzowitzky
Produced byVincent Newman
Written byMike Le
Music byMichael Wandmacher
CinematographyBenedict Neuenfels
Edited byMark Stevens
Vincent Newman Entertainment
Distributed byVertical Entertainment Destination Films
Release date
  • 14 August 2018 (2018-08-14) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States

Patient Zero is a 2018 science fiction horror film directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky and written by Mike Le. The film stars Matt Smith, Natalie Dormer, Stanley Tucci, Agyness Deyn, and Clive Standen. The plot involves a group of survivors who set out to find an antidote for a highly contagious virus that turns the infected into a ravenous but highly intelligent new species.

After a bidding war between several studios over a script penned by Le, Screen Gems eventually won the rights. Ruzowitzky signed on to direct in May 2014. Casting began in September 2014 and lasted until March 2015. Principal photography began on 3 March 2015 in London, before ending on 18 April.

Originally set to be released on 2 September 2016, the film was pushed back to 17 February 2017, then was removed from the Screen Gems release schedule. The film was finally released through video-on-demand on 14 August 2018, with a limited theatrical release on 14 September 2018 by Vertical Entertainment.


After an outbreak of a mutated form of rabies that spreads from animals to humans, over 7 billion humans are dead or infected. People who are bitten turn rabid in 90 seconds. Morgan was riding in a car with his wife Janet when they were attacked. He was infected, but remained human with the ability to talk with the infected.

Now with a large group of civilians, CDC scientists and U.S. military in an underground nuclear base, Morgan and virologist Dr. Gina Rose bring in the infected and interrogate them, hoping to find Patient Zero and devise a cure. Gina struggles with tensions between herself, Morgan, and Colonel Knox, compounded by Knox being attracted to Gina while she is currently intimate with Morgan. While interrogating an infected, who Morgan has named Joe Cocker, Knox shoots the patient.

Getting closer to finding Patient Zero, Morgan visits with Janet, who is caged in the underground base. She is being treated with an experimental treatment derived from Morgan's blood. In a flashback, Morgan wanted to have children with his wife, while she didn't want any.

Gina is shown with a positive pregnancy test. Bodies of fallen soldiers are being cremated when one opens his eyes and attacks the workers and soldiers. He is subdued and asks to speak with Morgan, who is surprised that the patient is unaffected by the music that has driven the other infected into a rage. The team assume he is closely linked to Patient Zero. The patient reveals that he was a professor and his school was attacked by the infected. He was bitten, but still maintains most of his human abilities. The Professor tells Morgan that the infected are evolved humans, a more advanced species who are at the top of the rapidly dwindling food chain. Morgan finds that another of the patients, who Morgan had named Pete Townshend, has a transmitter inside his chest, revealing that the infected laid a trap to learn where the base is.

The infected swarm inside, killing or infecting all the humans. Knox shoots his commander so the infected are slowed down long enough for him and Gina to make it to the elevator. She grabs his gun and tells him he is a monster for doing that. He tries to tell her he wanted to save her life. They begin to scuffle and the gun goes off, killing Knox. Gina goes to the cells where the infected are kept, and finds Morgan releasing Janet. Gina pleads with him to leave Janet since the treatments work but only for a short period of time, but he refuses. They sneak to Gina's lab, retrieve her samples, and crawl through the vents. They encounter an infected lab rat, which Janet kills before it can get to Gina. They make it to the parking lot just below ground level.

The Professor confronts them and explains that he came to the base to kill Morgan. Morgan is their "Patient Zero" and is a threat to their survival. They fight and the Professor starts calling other infected, until Morgan impales him on a pipe. The trio flee until Janet tells them to run and she will buy them time, telling Morgan he must leave her to save the baby, as she sensed that Gina is pregnant. This distracts Morgan long enough for Janet to close a heavy vault door just in time to stop the horde. Through a window in the door, Janet wipes a tear from her face, indicating that she was now able to cry and that the treatment was working and restoring her humanity, and mouths "I love you".

Morgan and Gina follow the tunnel out to the woods and find a motorcycle. They ride off into the night with Morgan understanding that he must do whatever it takes to take care of their baby and save some remnant of the human race.



The cast and crew of Patient Zero at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film.

The script, initially titled Patient Z, was featured on the 2013 Black List, an annual survey showcasing the "most liked" motion picture screenplays unproduced.[1] Set in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies, the story follows a man who speaks their language questions the undead in order to find a cure for his infected wife. The screenplay was the subject of a bidding war between several different studios including Fox Searchlight Pictures,[2] Silver Pictures, Davis Entertainment, Broken Road Productions, Donners' Company, Vincent Newman Entertainment and Misher Films.[2] Screen Gems eventually won the bidding war and Vincent Newman was set to produce through his company Vincent Newman Entertainment.[3] Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky was set to direct the film on 2 May 2014. When the screenplay was first sold, the creatures were zombies, though it was eventually removed during subsequent rewrites.[4]

On 24 September 2014, it was announced that Natalie Dormer would join the cast,[5] followed by Matt Smith joining that November.[6] Other roles were announced in early 2015 with Stanley Tucci joining in January[7] John Bradley[8] and Clive Standen joining in February.[9] and Agyness Deyn joining in March[10]


Principal photography on the film began in London on 3 March 2015.[11] From 9 March, filming took place at Shepperton Studios[10] and would also take place in and around London through 18 April 2015.[10] Some filming took place in Welwyn Garden City on 15 March 2015, where a SWAT van and car were seen on set.[12]


In August 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced that Patient Zero would be released on 2 September 2016 in the United States.[13] On 28 April 2016, the film was delayed to 17 February 2017.[14] In January 2017, the film was removed from the release schedule.[15] The film is scheduled to be released through video on demand on 14 August 2018, before receiving a limited theatrical release on 14 September 2018, by Vertical Entertainment.[16]


The film was promoted at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, which was attended by Smith, Dormer, Standen, Bradley, Ruzowitsky and Le. On 11 July 2015, a rough cut of the film's trailer was screened during the Screen Gems panel.[17] Standen explained that the film's tension centers on the infected thinking they are "the new evolution of mankind" who want to wipe out the human race.[18]


The film currently holds a 'Rotten' rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 7 reviews.[19]


  1. ^ Deadline Team, The (17 December 2013). "Black List 2013: Full Screenplay List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b Sneider, Jeff (18 October 2013). "Will Mike Le's Zombie Script 'Patient Z' Be the Next to Bite Off a Major Sale? (Exclusive)". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  3. ^ Sneider, Jeff (29 October 2013). "Screen Gems Wins Bidding War for Mike Le's Zombie Script 'Patient Zero' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  4. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (2 May 2014). "Screen Gems Sets Stefan Ruzowitzky For Genre Tale 'Patient Zero'". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  5. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (24 September 2014). "'Game Of Thrones' Natalie Dormer To Star In 'Patient Zero' For Screen Gems". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  6. ^ Hall, Gina (20 November 2014). "'Doctor Who's' Matt Smith to Star in 'Patient Zero'". Retrieved 13 March 2015. "Doctor Who" alum Matt Smith will star in "Patient Zero," a Sony spokesperson told TheWrap.
  7. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (22 January 2015). "Stanley Tucci Nabs Villain Role In 'Patient Zero'". Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  8. ^ Pantozzi, Jill (20 February 2015). "Exclusive: Another Game of Thrones Cast Member Joins Pandemic Thriller Patient Zero". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (24 February 2015). "'Vikings' Actor Clive Standen Joins Thriller 'Patient Zero'". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Lesnick, Silas (9 March 2015). "Zombie Pandemic Thriller Patient Zero Begins Production". Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  11. ^ "On the Set for 3/9/15: Bono Producing 'Waiting for the Miracle to Come', Natalie Dormer Starts Shooting 'Patient Zero' & More". 9 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  12. ^ Neil Metcalfe. "Welwyn Garden City transformed as stars of Doctor Who and Game of Thrones film Patient Zero". Welwyn Hatfield Times.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (5 August 2015). "Sony Dates 16 Films Including Two More 'Bad Boys' Sequels, 'Jumanji' Remake". Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Patient Zero (2017) - Box Office Mojo".
  15. ^ "Theatrical Movie Schedule Additions and Changes". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (12 July 2018). "Matt Smith's 'Patient Zero' Set August Release (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  17. ^ Rico, Elizabeth (26 July 2015). "SDCC 2015: A tale of two zombie films - PopOptiq". PopOptiq. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  18. ^ Gajewski, Ryan. "Comic-Con: 'Patient Zero' Brings Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer, Debuts First Footage". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Patient Zero (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 August 2020.

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