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Sick of holiday cheer? Want to return to a pandemic state of mind? Distance yourself from others and watch the full 'Contagion' movie.

Did the full ‘Contagion’ movie prepare us for a global pandemic? Watch it now

Back in the early days of the COVID-19 era, when the global pandemic seemed more like an inconvenience than an actual threat to America, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion saw an unexpected resurgence. The movie’s sudden return to popularity was as if streaming services were playing a dark joke on us: a film about a deadly virus crippling the world is climbing the charts just as a deadly virus tempts authorities to quarantine us?

Contagion wasn’t alone. Other movies & TV shows dealing with the subject matter of terrifying epidemics also experienced a boost in viewership. Titles such as Outbreak, TV series Containment, and docuseries Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak became overnight chart-toppers. In some cases, like with the movie 2012, the threat to humanity wasn’t even virus-related.

This surge in interest for fictional apocalypses became noticeable back in March. Ten months & hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths later, we still turn to disaster-themed entertainment when it’s time to decompress from our new coronavirus routine, whatever that may be these days. Sometimes, the best escapism strategy is to flee to a world where storytelling rules reassure us an end is in sight.

Soderbergh’s virus

The plot of Contagion will feel eerily familiar to anyone who lived through the year 2020. Steven Soderbergh’s movie is an ultra-realistic depiction of the scientific response to a pandemic. Shot in 2011, the film can come across as prescient in the way it addresses the difficulties inherent in disease containment and the loss of social order during such a crisis.

The virus in Contagion is transmitted by respiratory droplets and its spread takes over the world at an unprecedented rate. The disease claims “over 26 million lives worldwide”, including some in the stacked all-star cast (don’t worry, we won’t spoil which big names don’t make it to the end), before a successful vaccine is finally developed. The ordeal makes for a harrowing, yet very relatable, watch.

Contagion checks many of our other COVID-19 pandemic boxes: the need for social distancing, the emphasis on hand washing, the conspiracy theories regarding the origin of the virus, and so on. Back in March, it was easy to be amused at all the similarities between the movie & real life. As the year comes to an end, those same similarities are likely to bring about some much needed introspection.

Happy ending

Contagion may be a tense movie-watching experience but it can ultimately lift your spirits. The world goes through a pandemic hell in the movie, but humanity figures it out & makes it through to the other side. Even though millions of lives are lost in Contagion, the film can be read as a statement on how much we can overcome when we work together. In the end, Soderbergh’s virus is defeated by a vaccine.

Storytelling helps us make sense of the world by organizing chaos into a digestible narrative. In 2011, Steven Soderbergh (and his screenwriter, Max Z. Burns) couldn’t have known they were making a movie that would help us make sense of one of the biggest crises of 2020, yet that’s exactly what they did with Contagion. The film’s enduring popularity is a testament to its legacy.

Or not

The internet wouldn’t be the internet if there weren’t a darker reading of Contagion. Dip your toe on specific Reddit boards or take a trip to 8kun (formerly 8chan) and you can read all about how Contagion is the perfect example of “predictive programming”. Basically, the idea goes that Soderbergh’s movie was a government tool designed to get us used to the idea of global quarantines, mandatory vaccination, and so on.

An even more sinister take on Contagion adds an extra layer to the conspiracy: COVID-19 is a bioweapon designed at the Wuhan P4 bioweapons lab by an international cabal and Contagion was “made to condition the public for what was predestined to come.” One convincing piece of evidence for this theory is White House Coronavirus Task Force Dr. Anthony Fauci’s cameo, whose dialog is eerily similar to an actual TV interview from March 2020. (At the time, Fauci didn’t yet hold a government position.) In the film, any notion that the virus is a man-made bioweapon is quickly dismissed. That’s how they get you, man!

Predictive programming is an accusation often thrown at disaster movies, but Contagion’s pedigree – that all-star cast, that renowned director! – coupled with the very direct parallels to a current crisis certainly make the film an easier target. Nothing has been proven regarding the “Contagion was meant to brainwash us” speculations, but the potential for conspiracy theories in this situation is undeniable. You haven’t seen Contagion yet? Or maybe you’re itching for a rewatch? Allow us to tell you where to find the full movie.


The easiest, cheapest way to watch Contagion right away is to fire up your HBO or HBO Max app & find the full movie there. If you don’t have access to HBO, the subscription price is $14.99 a month and that’ll give you access to their entire library, not just Contagion.


Hulu & Amazon Prime have HBO add-ons for the same price of $14.99 a month. However, their add-ons include a free seven-day trial, so if you are not an HBO subscriber, you could sign up for either add-on & watch Contagion for free before canceling the trial.


If you’d rather not commit to any subscription service, you can always rent Contagion. The full movie is available for a $3.99 rental on most streaming sites, such as Google Play, Redbox, Vudu, Apple TV, Amazon Prime and the like. 


Maybe you don’t feel like paying for a movie that will compound the anxieties of the COVID-19 pandemic in your mind, but you are okay with watching it for free & aren’t afraid to sail the illegal waters of piracy. In that case, you have a few more options: do a search for 123movies, Putlocker or MoviesJoy for quick links to streaming Contagion – just make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus first!

Finally, The Pirate Bay is always an option for those of you who lean more toward torrenting your content. Again, it’s illegal and you need to make sure your computer is protected with an antivirus, so keep all that in mind as you download the full movie.

How many times have you seen Contagion? Do you find it oddly reassuring in these troubling times? Let us know in the comments!

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