Original Australian Daybill movie poster. The China Syndrome is a 1979 American thriller film that tells the story of a television reporter and her cameraman who discover safety cover ups at a nuclear power plant. It stars Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Michael Douglas, with Douglas also serving as the film's producer. The film was directed by James Bridges. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Lemmon), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Fonda), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (George Jenkins, Arthur Jeph Parker) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. The film was released on March 16, 1979, 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Coincidentally, in one scene in the film, physicist Dr. Elliott Lowell (Donald Hotton) says that the China Syndrome would render "an area the size of Pennsylvania" permanently uninhabitable.