Traffic


2h 27m 2001

Brief Synopsis

A patchwork of stories about various factions of the drug trade, including dealers, abusers and the law enforcement officials who pursue them. Mexican policeman Javier Rodriguez works on and around the border with his close friend and fellow policeman Manolo Sanchez, under Mexico's number one crime

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 12, 2001
Premiere Information
New York and Los Angeles openings: 27 Dec 2000
Production Company
Bedford Falls; Initial Entertainment Group
Distribution Company
USA Films
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Nogales, Sonora, Mexico; San Diego, California, USA; El Paso, Texas, USA; Washington, DC, USA; Texas, USA; Cincinnati, Ohio, United States; Columbus, Ohio, United States; El Paso, Texas, United States; Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States; Nogales,Mexico; San Diego, California, United States; Washington, D.C., United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the television mini-series Traffik , written by Simon Moore, produced by Carnival Films for Channel 4 Television (U.K.), 1989.

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 27m

Synopsis

On a deserted road near Tijuana, while Mexican policemen Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez and Manolo Sanchez wait to intercept an incoming plane carrying a cargo of illegal drugs, they see a truck. The suspicious Javier stops it, finds a large cache of drugs in the back and arrests the drivers. Several cars then speed toward them, and General Arturo Salazar exits one to tell Javier that he has done an excellent job, but his own men will take over. As Ohio Supreme Court Judge Robert Wakefield leaves for Washington to accept the position of U.S. Drug Czar, DEA agents Ray Castro and Montel Gordon are finalizing a sting operation in San Diego, California. Ray and Montel are about to complete the bogus drug buy with dealer Eduardo "Eddie" Ruiz, when pandemonium ensues following the unexpected arrival of local police. Ray and Montel chase the escaping Eddie, who is wounded, and corner him in a children's play palace. In the large Wakefield home in Cincinnati, Robert's daughter Caroline freebases cocaine for the first time with her prep school friend Seth Abrahms, while in San Diego, pregnant Helena Ayala lunches with her friends at the country club. Now in Washington, Robert meets with the Chief of Staff and learns from outgoing drug Czar General Ralph Landry that he will not be able to achieve long-lasting results. Later, Robert attends a cocktail party and listens patiently as Washington insiders offer him advice. In San Diego, Helen's husband Carlos is arrested in front of her and their young son David, while in Mexico, Javier is summoned by Salazar, who tells him that he wants his help in wiping out the Tijuana drug cartel run by the Obregon family. He then shows Javier a picture of ruthless Obregon hitman Francisco Flores, known as "Frankie Flowers," and asks him to bring Frankie to him. After returning to Cincinnati, Robert is annoyed by Caroline's flip comments about his new position, causing friction between himself and his wife Barbara. While a tearful Helena seeks advice from Carl's business partner, Arnie Metzger, in another section of San Diego, Javier makes contact with Frankie in a gay bar, and soon a blindfolded Frankie is driven to Salazar's desert headquarters. At night, in the Wakefield house, Caroline, Seth and several others take drugs and philosophize about life until one of the boys overdoses and goes into convulsions. Seth then drives everyone to an emergency room, where they dump the boy and attempt to flee, but are arrested by the police. At Salazar's headquarters, Javier is disturbed to hear Frankie's screams, while in San Diego, a worried Helena is visited by Arnie, who surreptitiously warns her that the house is bugged. After Caroline is released into her parents' custody, she claims she was only smoking marijuana and barely knew the boy who overdosed, but Robert senses she is lying and later argues with Barbara, who used drugs in college and seems unconcerned about Caroline's experimentation. Some time later, Salazar explains his methods to Javier: first torture, then get the prisoner to love and trust him like a father, after which he will learn everything. Salazar then goes to see a now-broken Frankie and scolds the guard for treating him so badly. In San Diego, Carl is denied bail, while in Cincinnati, Robert asks Assistant District Attorney Dan Collier to drop the charges against Caroline. Collier agrees, but tells Robert that the boy overdosed on heroin and cocaine. In a San Diego hospital, Eddie smugly tells Ray and Montel about the drug pipeline, saying that the war on drugs has been lost, but is afraid to testify against his life-long friend Carl. Frankie, still unnerved by torture, is now dining with Salazar, who cajoles him into revealing the names of the top men in the Obregon cartel. As Javier, Manolo and others arrest the men, telling reporters that credit goes to Salazar, news is broadcast that Porfilio Madrigal, head of the rival Juarez cartel, died during a plastic surgery procedure. A short time later, Javier and Manolo release the terrified Frankie, knowing that he is a marked man. At the border in San Ysidro, California, Robert is frustrated to learn that less than half of the drugs being smuggled into the U.S. are intercepted. When Robert visits El Paso, he is shocked to learn that he has no Mexican counterpart and chagrined that no one on his staff can suggest new strategies. Meanwhile, Caroline and Seth buy drugs in the Cincinnati slums, then get high while having sexin a cheap hotel. In a San Diego park, Helena, who has tearfully told Carl about their dire financial straits, sees a man approach David and is terrified when the man, Tigrillo, threatens the boy, saying that Carl owes $3,000,000 to the Obregons. Across the border, Javier is visited by Ana, Manolo's wife, who tells Javier that she is worried about Manolo. Javier then warns Manolo, who wants to make more money, to be careful of Salazar. Later, Javier is approached by an American who says that he has heard he is not happy with his work. In Arnie's San Diego office, Helena desperately tells him about the $3 million demanded by the Obregons and her fear of being alone, but he says there is no money and tries to comfort her. A short time later, in Mexico City, Javier and Manolo drive a flashy young woman to the new house her older lover has bought her. Javier is stunned when Manolo informs him that the man is Madrigal, whose face has been surgically altered, and says that Salazar has been Madrigal's partner all along. When Robert returns to Cincinnati, he and Barbara bitterly argue over his long absences and her frustration over Caroline's behavior. Barbara leaves and when Robert goes to Caroline's room, he discovers that she has been freebasing and angrily destroys her drug paraphernalia. In San Diego, Javier meets with DEA agents and insists that he will only talk to them in a public swimming pool. He refuses offers of money for information, but talks about a baseball park to prevent kids from becoming criminals. At night, unable to sleep, Helena thinks about what Carl has told her during her visits to him in jail and remembers something about a painting. She goes to the painting and finds hidden microfilm containing numbers and Frankie's name. Robert now flies to Mexico City to meet Salazar and is dismayed by the general's contempt for drug users and treatment programs. Some time later, as Carl's trial begins in San Diego, Eddie, who has agreed to testify against him, is being guarded by Ray and Montel at a faded hotel near the court huse, while Helena hires Frankie to kill him. In Tijuana, as Ana tells Javier that she fears Manolo is selling information to the DEA and will get himself killed, Robert returns to Cincinnati after learning that Caroline has escaped from her expensive rehab facility. While he vainly searches for her, she has sex with a drug dealer and injects heroin for the first time. Outside the San Diego court house, as Frankie plants a bomb under Ray's car, he is observed from a distance by Tigrillo. When court is recessed early, Eddie asks that they walk instead of drive to the hotel, causing a panicked Frankie to call Helena on her cellphone. Helena screams that he should just shoot Eddie in the head, but before he can, Frankie is shot and killed by Tigrillo. When Ray returns to the car, the bomb explodes, killing him. Elsewhere in San Diego, Manolo is nervously sitting at an outdoor café when he is pushed into a car by two of Salazar's men, who had previously handcuffed Javier. Although Manolo protests that he acted alone, both he and Javier are forced to dig their own graves in the desert. When shots are fired, only Manolo is killed and Salazar's men tell Javier that he is now "like family." Javier later comforts Ana, then angrily wanders Tijuana and brushes past Helena as she goes to see Juan Obregon. She makes her deal to have the $3 million debt forgiven and be the Obregons' sole U.S. distributor for cocaine that will be smuggled into the country in teddy bears. At the same time, Javier takes a polygraph test to prove the veracity of his information to DEA agents, but feels like a traitor. Robert is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call from his aide, who tells him that Salazar has been arrested, but Robert hangs up when Barbara discovers that Caroline has just stolen expensive items from their home. After kissing Barbara, Robert goes to Caroline's school and pulls Seth from his classroom, then forces the belligerent adolescent into helping him look for her. After failing to find her with his drug dealer, Seth leaves, but Robert later follows him to the hotel room where Caroline is with a John. After breaking the door in, Robert sees the high and barely conscious Caroline, then starts to cry and comfort her. On the day of Eddie's testimony, a phony room service waiter delivers his breakfast. After contemptuously telling Montel that his efforts to stop the drug traffic are futile, Eddie has a few bites of the meal then goes into convulsions and dies. Without Eddie's testimony, the charges against Carl cannot be proven and he is set free. In Mexico, Javier has been promoted and is now working with DEA agents, while Salazar is being tortured at his old headquarters. At the White House, Robert begins a press conference but finds it difficult to deliver prepared remarks about the war on drugs. After faltering, he rhetorically asks how you can wage war against your own family and leaves the podium. With Carl now free, he and Helena host a large party at their house. In his study, Carl calls Arnie and confronts him with stealing the $3 million owed to the Obregons and plotting to take over his life. Arnie protests, but it is too late. As Carl hangs up the phone, hired killers enter Arnie's office. A moment later, Montel breaks into Carl's study and loudly accuses him of being a murderer. After Helena and several security people rush in, Montel is escorted out, but not before he plants a "bug" under Carl's desk. In the mid-West, Caroline shyly tells her therapy group that she has good days and bad. When asked to comment, Robert, who is there with Barbara, says that they are just there to listen. At night, in Tijuana, Javier smiles as local boys play Little League in the newly built baseball field.

Cast

Benicio Del Toro

Javier [Rodriguez] Rodriguez

Jacob Vargas

Manolo Sanchez

Andrew Chavez

Desert truck driver

Michael Saucedo

Desert truck driver

Tomas Milian

General Arturo Salazar

Jose Yenque

Salazar soldier/The torturer

Emilio Rivera

Salazar soldier #2

Michael O'neill

Lawyer Rodman

Michael Douglas

Robert Wakefield

Russell G. Jones

Clerk

Lorene Hetherington

State capitol reporter #1

Eric Collins

State capitol reporter #2

Beau Holden

DEA Agent "CalTrans"

Peter Stader

DEA Agent "CalTrans"

James Lew

DEA Agent "CalTrans"

Jeremy Fitzgerald

DEA Agent "CalTrans"

Russell Solberg

DEA Agent "CalTrans"

Luis Guzman

Ray Castro

Don Cheadle

Montel Gordon

Don Snell

DEA Agent "Trailer"

Enrique Murciano

DEA Agent "Trailer"

Gary Carlos Cervantes

DEA Agent "Trailer"

Leticia Bombardier

Ruiz's secretary

Miguel Ferrer

Eduardo Ruiz

Carl Ciarfalio

Ruiz's assistant

Steve Lambert

Van driver

Gilbert Rosales

Van passenger

Rick Avery

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Mario Roberts

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Eileen Weisinger

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Ken Johnston

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Mike Watson

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Kurt Lott

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Lincoln Simonds

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Steve Tomaski

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Buck Mcdancer

DEA Agent "Public storage"

John Callery

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Ousaun Elam

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Brian Avery

DEA Agent "Public storage"

Corey Spears

F*****-up Bowman

Majandra Delfino

Vanessa

Topher Grace

Seth Abrahms

Erika Christensen

Caroline Wakefield

Alec Roberts

David Ayala

Catherine Zeta-jones

Helena Ayala

Rena Sofer

Helena's friend

Stacey Travis

Helena's friend

Jennifer Barker

Helena's friend

Dean Faulkner

Parking valet

Albert Finney

Chief of staff

D. W. Moffett

Jeff Sheridan

James Brolin

General Ralph Landry

Daniella Kuhn

Tourist woman

Brandon Keener

Tourist man

Governor Bill Weld

Himself

George Blumenthal

Partygoer #1

Stephen Dunham

Lobbyist

Senator Don Nickles

Himself

Margaret Travolta

Economist

Senator Harry Reed

Himself

Jeff Podolsky

Himself

Jewelle Bickford

Partygoer #2

Senator Barbara Boxer

Herself

Senator Orin Hatch

Himself

Senator Charles Grassley

Himself

Dave Hager

Partygoer #3

Tucker Smallwood

Partygoer #4

Steven Bauer

Carlos Ayala

Marisol Padilla Sanchez

Ana Sanchez

Amy Irving

Barbara Wakefield

Dennis Quaid

Arnie Metzger

Clifton Collins Jr.

Francisco [Frankie Flowers] Flores

Victor Quintero

Salazar soldier

Toby Holguin

Salazar soldier

Ramiro Gonzalez

Salazar soldier

Viola Davis

Social worker

James Pickens Jr.

Prosecutor Ben Williams

Peter Riegert

Attorney Michael Adler

Elaine Kagan

Judge [Evelyn] Reed

John Slattery

ADA Dan Collier

Jim Ortega

Arrested man in apartment

Greg Boniface

Tackled man #1

Tom Rosales

Tackled man #2

Rudy M. Camacho

Customs official

Vonte Sweet

Dealer [in Cincinnati]

Ed Breving

Hotel deskman

Yul Vazquez

Tigrillo/Obregon assassin

Jack Conley

Agent Hughes

Eddie Velez

Agent Johnson

Craig N. Chretien

Director of EPIC

John Brown

Assistant director of EPIC

Mike Siegel

DEA representative

Salma Hayek

Madrigal's mistress

Joel Torres

Porfilio Madrigal

Steve Rose

Marty

Kimber Fritz

Rehab counselor

Harsh Nayyar

Witness #1

Mary Pat Gleason

Witness #2

Vincent Ward

Man on street

Benjamin Bratt

Juan Obregon

Jsu Garcia

Pablo Obregon

Gregory Estevane

Polygraph administrator

Alex Procopio

Polygraph assistant

Rita Gomez

Mrs. Castro

Kaizaad Navroze Kotwal

Teacher

David Jensen

"John"

Jay Fernando Krymis

Waiter #1

Mike Malone

Waiter #2

Rene Pereyra

Doctor

Kymberly S. Newberry

Press secretary

Carroll Schumacher

Ayala security

Michael Showers

Meeting leader

Crew

Alex Acuna

Percussion

James C. Alfonso

Driver

Fran Allgood

Set Costume for Mr. Douglas

Rusty Amodeo

Weddington transfer

Dale E. Anderson

Set Dresser

Peter Andrews

Photography

James Apted

"A" Camera 2d Assistant

Valentina Aulisi

Assistant to Ms. Bickford

Dustin Ault

Rigging best boy grip

Herb Ault

Key grip

Russell Ayer

Electrician

Adam L. Barker

Plaster foreman

Trey Batchelor

2d Assistant Director

Chris Beanes

Driver

Jason Bedig

Leadman

Ludwig Von Beethoven

Composer

Richard Bennetti

Transportation co-capt

Rick Benoit

Prod

Julianne Berkowitz

Assistant to Ms. Zeta-Jones

Greg Berry

Set Design

Elizabeth Besio

Cutter/Fitter

Loren Bess

Driver

David Betancourt

Foley mixer

Laura Bickford

Producer

Carrie Black

Assistant prod Coordinator, San Diego crew

Larry Blake

Supervisor Sound ed/Re-rec mixer

Brent Blom

Set Dresser

Clelio Boccato

Assistant prod Coordinator

Jill Bogdanowicz

Junior colorist

Carlos Boiles

Grip, San Diego crew

Richard Boris

Greensman

Joseph F. Brennan

Boom Operator

Gary Brewer

Set Dresser

Carrie Brody

Prod office Assistant

Shawn J. Broes

Ed

Michael Brook

Guitar

Jay E. Brooks

Painter

Jeffrey Brooks

Propmaker gangboss

Jerrold F. Brooks

Propmaker gangboss

Frederic W. Brost

Unit Production Manager

Brumby Broussard

Cast Assistant

Glenn Brown

"B" Camera 2d Assistant

Keri Bruno

Set prod Assistant

Eric Bryant

Art Department Assistant

Joachin Cervera Buenfil

Assistant Camera, Mexico crew

John B. Bullard

Propmaker foreman

Gary Burritt

Negative cutter

Glyn Bush

Composer

Frank Alan Butler

Driver

William Butler-sloss

Assistant to Mr. Newell & Mr. Jones

Kyle Carden

Grip

Lisa Carey

2d Assistant accountant

Doreen L. Carpenter

Transportation dispatcher

Jon Carpenter

Transportation Coordinator

Manuel Castillo

Set dresser, San Diego crew

Patricia S. Chapman

Prod Manager, Cincinnati crew

R. Michael Charske

Loc Assistant, El Paso crew

Gary Cheek

Driver

Robert Chookhachian

Driver

Craig N. Chretien

Tech consultant

Bonnie Clevering

Hair Department head

Angie Lee Cobbs

Assistant prod Coordinator

Matt Coby

Mix Assistant

Manuel D. Cocar

Catering Assistant

Mark Coffey

Weddington transfer

Beryl Cohen

DGA trainee

Robin Cohen

Assistant to Mr. Solomon

Charles Conn

Driver

Norman Cook

Composer

Deirdre Costa

Loc Manager, Cincinnati crew

Carole Cowley

Prod

Andreas Crawford

Rigging key grip

Douglas Crise

1st Assistant Avid Editor

Gary D. Cruise

Driver

Keith P. Cunningham

Art Director

Renee D. Czarapata

Payroll accountant

Paulinho Da Costa

Percussion

Chic Daniel

Technical Advisor

Robert Darwell

Prod legal

R. Michael De Chellis

Rigging gaffer

Stacy De La Motte

Camera loader

Loretta James Demasi

Key makeup artist

Betsy Dennis

Prod office Assistant, San Diego crew

Mark Dometrovich

Cast Assistant

Molly A. Donnellon

Assistant prod Coordinator, Cincinnati crew

Dale A. Douglas

Driver

Bill Duffin

Propmaker gangboss

Michael Jon Duffin

Propmaker gangboss

Caz Duffy

Camera prod Assistant

P. Caleb Duffy

Assistant loc Manager

Robert W. Dulys

Driver

Guy A. Duquette

Driver

Alan Easley

Set Dresser

Skye Edwards

Composer

Tobias Enhus

Synth rec

Brian Eno

Composer

E. J. Butch Ertel

Projectionist

Louie Esparza Jr.

Labor foreman

John Falvey

Cast Assistant

Robert Fidalgo

Labor foreman

Dawn Fintor

Foley

Kevin 'rambo' Fitzgerald

Best boy grip

Flea

Master of the 4-string electric Bassius O'Phellius

Carlos Flores

Catering Assistant

Jay Floyd/now Clear This!

Clearance services

Christopher Forrest

Propmaker

Gerard Forrest

Loc foreman

Julius Friede

Senior colorist

Louise Frogley

Costume Design

Stephen Gaghan

Screenwriter

Jay Gallagher

Mix Assistant

Hank Giardina

Paint Supervisor

William Gideon

Gen foreman

Aaron Glascock

Dial Editor

Bernard A. Glavin

Driver

Leon L. Glavin

Driver

Kevin Globerman

Assistant eng

Paul Godfrey

Composer

Ross Godfrey

Composer

Tim Golden

Consultant

Chris Gorden

Driver

Kathrine Gordon

Hair Department head

Billy Grace

Driver

Shane Greedy

Transportation capt

Kristopher Gregg

Digital imaging op

Wylie Young Griffin

Art Department Coordinator

Josh Gummersall

Assistant to Mr. Herskovitz

Werner Hahnlein

Special Effects foreman

Ronald Hairston Jr.

Craft service

Ronald E. Hairston

Craft service

Tamiko Hairston

Craft service

Erik Hakanen

Digital imaging Coordinator

Quentin Halliday

Assistant loc Manager

Herbie Hancock

Electric piano

Edward T. Hanley

Set Costume

Kevin Hannigan

Special Effects Coordinator

Jeffrey C. Harris

2d Assistant accountant

William D. Harrison

Special Effects tech

Keith Heileman

Prod office Assistant, Cincinnati crew

Lilli Heinrich

Prod Coordinator, El Paso crew

Phillip Helman

Driver

Marshall Herskovitz

Producer

George Herthel

Addl loc Manager

Jason Hinkel

2d Assistant accountant

Paul Howarth

Ed

Blair Huizingh

Assistant art Director

Kelvin Hunter

Grip prod Assistant

Mike Hutmacher

Driver

Barry Idoine

"A" Camera 1st Assistant

Alicia Irwin

Foley

Gregory Jacobs

1st Assistant Director

Kathrine James

Makeup Department head

Karen Jarnecke

Prod Coordinator

Gary Jay

Camera Operator

Marisol Jimenez

Constr accountant

Jonny R. Johnson

Driver

Cameron Jones

Executive Producer

Adrian Grunberg Kaufman

Assistant Director, Mexico crew

Steven Kerlagun

Paint foreman

Graham King

Executive Producer

Richard Kite

Utility Sound

Andreas Klein

Executive Producer

Joyce Kogut

Costume Supervisor

Bud Kucia

Welder/Ironman

Michael La Corte

Set prod Assistant

Valerie Nadja Lancelot

Assistant art Director

J. T. Lannen

Driver

Graham Larson

Assistant to Mr. Zwick

Lance Larson

Assistant Props master

Vincent Lavares

Digital asset Manager

Ken Lavet

Loc Manager

Robin L. Le Chanu

Prod Supervisor

Paul Ledford

Prod Sound mixer

James V. Lingle

Driver

Keri Littledeer

Set medic

David Low

Contractor

Sonya Lunsford

1st Assistant accountant

Mike Malone

On-set dresser

Caitlin Maloney

Assistant to Mr. Soderbergh

Duane C. Manwiller

"B" Camera 1st Assistant

Francisco Mares

Tailor

Denise Marquez

Editor prod Assistant

Bob Marshak

Still Photographer

Cliff Martinez

Music

Daniel Martinez

Loc Manager, Mexico crew

Antoine Mascaro

Chef

Thomas J. Mcgowan

Studio teacher

Meaghan F. Mclaughlin

Prod office Assistant, Mexico crew

Steven B. Melton

Props Master

Tony Mercier

Driver

Ken Merritt

Driver

Kristen Toscano Messina

Set Decoration

Philip Messina

Production Design

Alan Meyerson

Music mixed by

Annie Miller

Set Costume

Jerry Miller

Signwriter

Melody Miller

Assistant Props master

Stephen Mirrione

Editing

Robert Mitas

Assistant to Mr. Douglas

Rick Mitchell

Foley Editor

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 12, 2001
Premiere Information
New York and Los Angeles openings: 27 Dec 2000
Production Company
Bedford Falls; Initial Entertainment Group
Distribution Company
USA Films
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Nogales, Sonora, Mexico; San Diego, California, USA; El Paso, Texas, USA; Washington, DC, USA; Texas, USA; Cincinnati, Ohio, United States; Columbus, Ohio, United States; El Paso, Texas, United States; Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States; Nogales,Mexico; San Diego, California, United States; Washington, D.C., United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the television mini-series Traffik , written by Simon Moore, produced by Carnival Films for Channel 4 Television (U.K.), 1989.

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 27m

Award Wins

Best Adapted Screenplay

2000

Best Adapted Screenplay

2001
Stephen Gaghan

Best Director

2000
Steven Soderbergh

Best Director

2001
Steven Soderbergh

Best Editing

2000

Best Supporting Actor

2000
Benicio Del Toro

Best Supporting Actor

2001
Benicio Del Toro

Award Nominations

Best Picture

2000

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

There are no opening credits on the film, other than a title card that reads "USA Films" followed by the start of the action with the word "Traffic" on the lower left side of the screen. In the end credits, following director Steven Soderbergh's name, names of the principal cast members appear, beginning with Michael Douglas. The complete cast appears later, in order of appearance, as listed above. Salma Hayek, who appears briefly in the film as "Porfilio Madrigal's" mistress, did not receive screen credit.
       Soderbergh also acted as the director of photography for the film, although he used the pseudonym "Peter Andrews" in the onscreen credits. According to the film's presskit, he did so because the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) would not accept his proposed credit, "Directed and photographed by Steven Soderbergh."
       Various news items and feature articles document the complicated distribution history of the film. Initially, Traffic was to be co-financed and distributed by Fox 2000, then was to picked up by USA Films after Fox put the project into turn around. A late February 2000 news item in Screen International noted that the film "had made a U-turn and gone back to Fox" with Fox Searchlight set to co-finance the film and North American distribution to be handled by Twentieth Century Fox. By May 2000, however, production charts confirmed another shift in domestic distribution, with USA Films again listed as the domestic distributor and Initial Entertainment Group set for international distribution. The film lists the following production and distribution credit: "A Bedford Falls/Laura Bickford Production//A USA Films Presentation//in Association with Initial Entertainment Group."
       According to various Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items and Hollywood Reporter production charts in early 2000, Harrison Ford was initially cast in the film as "Robert Wakefield." When Ford withdrew from the project, actors Kevin Costner, Al Pacino, Tommy Lee Jones and Richard Gere were variously reported as being considered for, or pursuing, the role. In March 2000, Douglas, who news items noted had first been offered the role but declined, became interested in it again, especially after his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, was cast as "Helena Ayala." Although they had no scenes together, Traffic marked the first film in which Zeta-Jones, who was pregnant in real life as well as in the story, appeared with Douglas.
       Traffic differed from the British television mini-series on which it was based, Traffik, in that the American film concentrated on the Mexican drug connection, whereas the British series dealt with the Pakistani connection. When the British mini-series was released on DVD in the U.S. in July 2001, several reviews compared it favorably to the American film, although some British reviewers expressed the opinion that the film was superior.
       Although Traffic was presented in a seemingly chronological order, the various storylines were interwoven, with the action switching back and forth among them. Occasionally longer sequences set in one place were intercut with shorter scenes or quick shots of action that was taking place in another. All of the scenes set in Mexico appeared in a yellow tone, and many of the scenes set in Cincinnati appeared in a blue tone. Most of the dialogue for the scenes set in Mexico was spoken in Spanish, with English subtitles.
       The film's presskit and news items note that extensive shooting in done in San Diego, CA. Additional locations included Nogales, Mexico, Las Cruses, NM, El Paso, TX, Columbus and Cincinnati, OH, Georgetown and Washington, DC and Los Angeles. Early news items estimated the film's budget variously to be between $30 to $40 million or $60 to $65 million, however, a Los Angeles Times article on December 25, 2000 estimated that the film's final budget was $50 million.
       As noted in a Los Angeles Times "Morning Report" news item on April 27, 2001, representatives for the exclusive Cincinnati County Day School announced that they had reached a settlement with USA Films and would not sue over Traffic's identification of the long-established school as the one attended by "Caroline Wakefield." School officials said that they were never asked for permission to use their name.
       In addition to being selected as one of AFI's top ten films of 2000, Traffic was included in numerous top ten lists and was honored with many awards. It also earned four Academy Awards, including Best Director for Soderbergh, Best Supporting Actor for Benicio Del Toro, Best Adapted Screenplay for Stephen Gaghan and Best Film Editing for Stephen Mirrione. The film was nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Gladiator. Soderbergh was also nominated in the Best Director category for Erin Brockovich. Del Toro won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, with other Golden Globe nominations going to Zeta-Jones for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Soderbergh for Best Director, Gaghan for Best Screenplay and the film Best Picture, Drama.
       Gaghan won the WGA award for Best Screenplay and Del Toro won the SAG award for Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role. The Traffic cast also won SAG's Outstanding Cast Performance Award, and the film won three ALMA awards, for Outstanding Feature Film, Outstanding Latino Cast and Outstanding Soundtrack. In March 2001, Traffic also had the distinction of being selected as a topic for 5 shows on ABC's prestigious Nightline news analysis program, the first film to be discussed on the program. In 2002, an American television mini-series, based on both the British series and the American film was produced by USA Network for broadcast in late 2003. The series, also titled Traffic, was directed by Eric Bross and Stephen Hopkins, and starred Elias Koteas.

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Actor (Benicio Del Toro) at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival.

Co-winner of two 2000 awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay along with "Wonder Boys" (USA/2000) and Best Director along with "Erin Brockovich" (USA/2000) from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Also nominated for the award for Best Picture.

Nominated for the 2000 Award for Best Costume Design in a Feature Film - Contemporary from the Costume Designers Guild (CDG).

Nominated for the 2000 award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film from the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

Nominated for the 2000 Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature - Drama, from the American Cinema Editors (ACE).

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2000 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Winner of the 2000 award for Best Director from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

Winner of the 2000 award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published from the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

Winner of the 2000 award for Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro) from the Online Film Critics Society.

Winner of the 2000 awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro) from the New York Film Critics Circle.

Winner of three 2000 Golden Satellite Awards, including Best Picture - Drama, Best Director and Best Ensemble Cast Performance, from the International Press Academy.

Winner of two 2000 Awards, including Best Actor (Benicio Del Toro) and Best Ensemble Cast, from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

Winner of two 2000 awards, including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio del Toro), from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

Winner of two 2000 awards, including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro), from the National Society of Film Critics.

Released in United States Winter December 27, 2000

Expanded Release in United States January 5, 2001

Released in United States on Video May 29, 2001

Released in United States February 2001

Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (in competition) February 7-18, 2001.

Harrison Ford was previously attached to star.

Project was previously set up at Fox Searchlight.

Began shooting April 8, 2000.

Completed shooting June 21, 2000.

Simon Moore's miniseries "Traffik" (United Kingdom/1990) was originally produced by Carnival Films for Britain's Channel 4 Television.

Released in United States Winter December 27, 2000

Expanded Release in United States January 5, 2001

Released in United States on Video May 29, 2001

Released in United States February 2001 (Shown at Berlin International Film Festival (in competition) February 7-18, 2001.)

Winner of the 2001 Artios Award for Feature Film - Drama by the Casting Society of America (CSA).