A copy of Scott Z. BurnsContagion — the basis of Steven Soderbergh‘s forthcoming deadly-virus movie for Warner Bros. — arrived a little while ago. I’ve had a chance to skim through it, and it’s scary, all right. Scary isn’t scary unless it’s believable, and this one is. The tone is urgent and tense. It feels like something in which the creepiness will leak through rather than slap you across the face.

The plot follows “an international team of doctors and scientists brought in by the Center for Disease Control after an outbreak of a deadly virus,” etc. Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne have been cast. It’s Traffic-y.

The rule-of-thumb in virus movies is that lead or “name” actors don’t get infected — only supporting actors. If a lead actor does get infected (I’ll know more when I read the whole script tonight), it will be an indication of his/her diminished status. Especially given the Warner Bros. input factor. (Corporate money = conventional/boilerplate thinking.) Of the actors above, whose career could be said to be a wee bit saggy or slipping? That’s easy — Jude Law or Gwynneth Paltrow’s. Which means that if conventional thinking applies, one of these two will get sick. And perhaps both. Perhaps Soderbergh wil go against the grain and arrange for Damon or Winslet to get it.

Contagion is supposed to shoot at the end of this year for release in ’11. Burns’ script is 129 pages long plus a sentence and a word.