Outbreak (film)

1995 film directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Outbreak is a 1995 film about an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus called Motaba. The film is set in the fictional town of Cedar Creek, California and shows how far the USAMRIID and the CDC might go to contain the spread.

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.Written by Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool, based on Richard Preston's 1994 nonfiction book The Hot Zone.
Try to remain calm.taglines

Col. Sam Daniels

  • [appeals to the Clean Sweep bomber crew to call off the strike] You hear me, don't you, guys? I'll say it one last time. These people that you're going to bomb are not the enemy. We can kill the virus without killing these people. I swear on my soul that the President does not have the facts. He doesn't know we have a working serum. Oh Christ, if you think I'm lying, drop the bomb. If you think I'm crazy, drop the bomb, but don't drop the bomb just because you're following orders! What you haven't been told is that your superiors have another agenda. Don't you understand that right below you in Cedar Creek, there's a biological weapon that they've been manufacturing illegally for the last 30 years?!? Hey, I guarantee you that the disease has spread beyond the perimeters of this town! If you incinerate Cedar Creek, you incinerate the serum!!!

White House Chief of Staff

  • [addresses Cabinet after General McClintock briefs them on Operation Clean Sweep] Now, as I understand it, you want to firebomb the town of Cedar Creek, California, population 2600, with something called a "fuel-air bomb", the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in our arsenal. [describes with hands] The way it works, it explodes, sucks in all available oxygen to the core, vaporizes everything within a mile of ground zero — men, women, children, and one airborne virus. Destruction complete, case closed, crisis over. [He pulls out a small booklet from his back pocket.] This... Constitution of the United States... [throws on table] I've read it cover to cover. I don't find anything in it about vaporizing 2600 American citizens, but it does sayseveral times — that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. So, a couple of things before "Clean Sweep" is even considered: One, unanimous, unwavering support for the president on this one and I mean public, you're gonna stand there shoulder to shoulder with him - he goes down, you go down. And the second thing is, I want an army of experts citing hundreds of thousands of lab experiments, telling any idiot with a camera, that there was no other way! You got that? Hmm? No member of this government is gonna go sneaking off to the Washington Post telling how "they were the sole voice of opposition." If there is a voice of opposition out there, I want him in here now! [Throws a wad of photos on the table.] Those are the citizens of Cedar Creek. Go on, look at them - these are not statistics, ladies and gentlemen - they're flesh and blood, and I want you to burn those into your memories, because those images should haunt us 'til the day we die!


Sam Daniels: What're you gonna be doing at CDC?
Robby Keough: Working BL-4. Same as you.
Sam: My job.
Robby: Well, I like to think of it as my job.

Maj. Salt: [showing them the progression of the virus on a computer] Okay, sirs, here we go. These pictures were taken over a period of eight hours. Normal, healthy kidney cells before they met the virus. In the space of an hour, a single virus has invaded, multiplied and killed the cell. And in just two hours, its offspring have invaded cells here, and here. Continually multiplying.
Casey Schuler: Jesus Christ, five hours? It infects the cell, replicates, and kills this fast? These numbers can't be right Ebola takes days to do this damage.
Maj. Salt: Sirs, the numbers are correct. I wish to God they weren't. One goes in, millions come out. Every cell is dead. Now we see them individually, searching for the next victim until there's nothing left to kill.
Casey Schuler: Mark this day, Salt. We could spend our whole careers waiting to see a new virus.
[Salt zooms in some more]
Maj. Salt: Sirs, Mr. Motaba, up close and personal.
Casey Schuler: I hate this bug.
Sam Daniels: Come on, Casey. You have to love its simplicity. It's one-billionth our size and it's beating us.
Casey: So, what do you wanna do — take it to dinner?
Sam: No.
Casey: What, then?
Sam: Kill it.

Sam Daniels: Sir, I sent you the fax six hours ago...
Brig. Gen. Billy Ford: Sam, I am not going to issue an alert.
Sam: I don't wanna bust up your party, sir, but you gotta issue an alert.
Ford: You said it was contained!
Sam: I said containment was probable. You should be monitoring the airports, you gotta...
Ford: Sam! Do you remember 1989?
Sam: Yeah.
Ford: You found two lousy cases of Congo fever in Nairobi and we put a note to every American kid's lunchbox. You remember that?
Sam: Yeah, I was wrong.
Ford: You were wrong.
Sam: Uh-huh.
Ford: What about 1992? Lassa fever?
Sam: I was wrong. Yup.
Ford: Wrong again. But you're right about this?
Sam: No, I could be wrong...
Ford: Yet you waltz into my party smelling like dirty socks, snatch me away from Senator Rosales, whom I need not remind you, Sam, is head of the Senate Arms Services subcommittee which is in charge of our fucking budget.
Sam: Forget Ebola. Forget Lassa. This bug kills so fast, Billy. You could be dead in...
Ford: Keep your voice down. Now, that is exactly my point, Sam.
Sam: What?
Ford: It is the very lethality of this virus which is working for us here. These unfortunate people don't live long enough to spread the goddamn thing around. So you're right, it is contained.
Sam: I hope so.

[Sam tries unsuccessfully to get Robby to issue a CDC alert.]
Sam Daniels: Once in your life, take a chance!
Robby Keough: You know what, Sam? I did. I married you.

[Daniels and Salt barge through a crowded line at a Federal export clearance office.]
Sam Daniels: [presents business card] Colonel Daniels, from USAMRIID. I'm sorry.
George: Yes, and I'm George from Sioux City, South Dakota. Back of the line, Colonel.
Sam: We got a terrible epidemic. We're from Cedar Creek, George. [to the crowd] We're from Cedar Creek, California!
Major Salt: CEDAR CREEK, SITE OF A VIRAL INFECTION!!! [people stand back, including the two men George is trying to gently hold off]
Sam: [looks worried] George, you heard about this virus — need we say more? Okay, we need all the bills of lading from ships arriving from Africa [clasps George's hands] in the last three months. George!
George: [nervously] Uh-huh… huh?
Sam: Shall I cough on you, George?

[Colonel Briggs hands General McClintock an address.]
Col. Briggs: They're headed right there, and I got two teams on standby.
Gen. Donald McClintock: Good, Briggs — a potential screw-up you managed to avoid among many others you have not. Who do you think should handle this now?
Briggs: You, sir?
McClintock: You kiss ass with the best of them, Briggs. You hope to make general one day?
Briggs: Yes, sir.
McClintock: Well, you won't.

[Sam and George fly back to Cedar Creek with a sedated Betsy, but run into General McClintock, who has other plans]
Gen. Donald McClintock: With all due respect, Col. Daniels, if you do not follow us to Travis Air Force Base, I will blow you out of the sky!
Sam Daniels: General, with all due respect, fuck you, sir.

[The USAF plane tasked to drop a fuel-air bomb on Cedar Creek has sent the weapon over the water instead. General McClintock is ordering it rearmed]
Brig. Gen. Billy Ford: Sandman, this is General Ford. You will ignore that order. For the record, I'm relieving General McClintock of command, for the crime of withholding vital information from the President of the United States.
Maj-Gen. Donald McClintock: I have, in no way, withheld vital information from the President of the United States.
Ford: Colonel Briggs.
Colonel Briggs: Sir.
Ford: Place General McClintock under arrest.
McClintock: If I go down for this, Billy, you go down for it.
Ford: It's out of our hands now, Donnie.
McClintock: You silly sentimental son of a bitch... Nobody puts me under arrest. Nobody. [blocked by a pistol-packing Col. Briggs as he tries to leave the command post] Colonel Briggs. What a wonderful moment this must be for you. [Briggs smiles as he leads him away under armed guard.]

[Sam and Robby talk as she's recovering from the disease.]
Robby Keough: It's a pretty unique experience.
Sam Daniels: Sorta like living with me.
Robby: Mm-hmm.
Sam: Would you go through it again?
Robby: Maybe. Now that I have the antibodies.


  • This animal carries a deadly virus… and the greatest medical crisis in the world is about to happen.
  • Try to remain calm.


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