Netflix’s Bird Box was a big hit for the company over Christmas and New Year’s, picking up rave reviews, terrifying audiences and even launching the hilarious Bird Box challenge fad. But one aspect of the movie that was decidedly not cool was the film using footage of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster (which caused the death of 47 people) to illustrate the chaos of society breaking down.
The people of Lac-Mégantic, Canada – and especially the families of those that died – were understandably pretty miffed that Netflix was using footage of the disaster that killed their loved ones for entertainment (it also didn’t improve matters when it emerged that Netflix show Travellers was also using it). The town launched a campaign to get the scenes removed, with mayor Julie Morin pleading with Netflix to do the right thing, saying:
“I don’t know if this is happening all the time, but we are looking for assurances from Netflix that they are going to remove them. You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”
Netflix’s reaction to all this seemed very cold-hearted, with the streaming service refusing to cut the footage and claiming that there’s no way that they can make changes to “finished content.” As I said at the time, that was obviously a stone-cold fib, as they could if they wanted to.
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Now, it seems I’ve been proven right, as Netflix has announced they that they’ll be removing and replacing the controversial footage “soon.” Better late than never, right? Morin seems to concur, saying:
“Yes, there was a delay, but I think in the end, what’s most important for me, is that we have a solution to this situation we felt was important to settle.”
I’m glad that this is resolved. Bird Box was a neat little horror film, but it was slightly tainted by this mysterious inclusion and Netflix’s strange intransigence on the matter. Let’s hope that in the future they review their stock footage choices a little more carefully.