Traffic (2000 film)

Traffic is a 2000 American crime drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Stephen Gaghan. It explores the illegal drug trade from a number of perspectives: users, enforcers, politicians, and traffickers. Their stories are edited together throughout the film, although some of the characters do not meet each other. The film is an adaptation of the 1989 British Channel 4 television series Traffik. The film stars an international ensemble cast, including Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Erika Christensen, Luis Guzmán, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jacob Vargas, Tomas Milian, Topher Grace, James Brolin, Steven Bauer, and Benjamin Bratt. It features both English and Spanish-language dialogue.

Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteven Soderbergh
Screenplay byStephen Gaghan
Based onTraffik
by Simon Moore
Produced by
CinematographyPeter Andrews (pseudonym for Steven Soderbergh)
Edited byStephen Mirrione
Music byCliff Martinez
Distributed byUSA Films
Release date
  • December 27, 2000 (2000-12-27) (United States)
Running time
147 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • Spanish
Budget$48 million[1]
Box office$207.5 million[2]

20th Century Fox, the original financiers of the film, demanded that Harrison Ford play a leading role and that significant changes to the screenplay be made. Soderbergh refused and proposed the script to other major Hollywood studios, but it was rejected because of the three-hour running time and the subject matter—Traffic is more of a political film than most Hollywood productions.[3] USA Films, however, liked the project from the start and offered the filmmakers more money than Fox. Soderbergh operated the camera himself and adopted a distinctive color grade for each storyline so that audiences could tell them apart.

Traffic was released in the United States on December 27, 2000 and received critical acclaim for Soderbergh's direction, the style, the complexity, the messages, and the performances (particularly del Toro's). Traffic earned numerous awards, including four Oscars: Best Director for Steven Soderbergh, Best Supporting Actor for Benicio del Toro, Best Adapted Screenplay for Stephen Gaghan and Best Film Editing for Stephen Mirrione. It was also a commercial success with a worldwide box-office revenue total of $207.5 million, well above its estimated $46 million budget.

In 2004, USA Network ran a miniseries—also called Traffic—based on this film and the 1989 British television series.

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