- Canadians are accusing Netflix of using real footage of a deadly rail disaster in fictional productions, including the hit movie “Bird Box.”
- A 2013 deadly train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, caused an explosion that killed 47 people and flattened much of the town’s downtown core.
- Lac-Mégantic’s mayor, Julie Morin, says use of the footage for entertainment value shows a “lack of respect” and has demanded Netflix replace the footage.
- The Canadian-produced Netflix show, “Travellers,” has already agreed to replace the footage, according to the production company.
- Netflix told INSIDER the footage in “Bird Box” was indeed from Lac-Mégantic, and they’re keeping the footage in the film.
Outraged Canadians say two recent Netflix productions – including the hit movie “Bird Box” – used footage from a deadly 2013 train disaster that killed 47 people and flattened much of the downtown core in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.
Lac-Mégantic’s mayor, Julie Morin, took to Canadian media to complain about Netflix’s use of the footage and demand that the streaming service ensures no more images of the disaster are being used as entertainment in fictional shows and movies.
“We are looking for assurances from Netflix that … they are going to remove them,” Morin told the Canadian Press. “You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”
The Lac-Mégantic disaster occurred in July 2013, when an unattended, runaway train holding roughly 2 million gallons of crude oil barreled into the town at 65 miles per hour, derailing at a bend in the tracks. The ensuing explosion destroyed 44 buildings, left 160 people homeless, and left 27 children with one or more dead parents.
INSIDER has since learned from Netflix that the footage in “Bird Box” was indeed from Lac-Mégantic and that Netflix will be keeping the footage in the film.
“Bird Box” is a post-apocalyptic psychological horror, and the Lac-Mégantic footage appears in the first five minutes of the movie when several characters are watching a news segment about people around the world displaying “psychotic behaviour.”
Robert Bellefleur, a member of the Coalition of Citizens and Organisations Committed to Railway Safety in Lac-Mégantic,told Radio-Canada that he found Netflix’s use of the footage disturbing.
“It brings us back to pain,” he told the outlet in French.
Another Netflix show used the same footage
“Bird Box” hasn’t been the only production the Canadians have accused the streaming service of using the footage in – the Canadian-made Netflix show “Travellers” did, too.
The production company, Peacock Alley Entertainment, said in a statement via Netflix that they would be replacing the footage in the show.
“As the Canadian producers of ‘Travellers,’ we acquired this footage from stock footage vendor Pond 5 and weren’t aware of its specific source,” the statement said. “We sincerely apologise and had no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013.”
How did the disaster footage get in the Netflix productions?
Pond5 told INSIDER in a statement that its content database offers 14 million video clips, including fictional scenes, actual news clips, and archival footage. The company is “taking additional steps to correct the situation” and contacting all customers who have purchased the clip to ensure they’re aware of the “sensitive” context.
“We deeply regret that this happened and sincerely apologise to anyone who was offended, especially the victims and their families,” the statement said.
Lac-Mégantic’s mayor told the Canadian Press that the survivors are already traumatized from the disaster, and seeing images on popular shows and movies could make the problem worse.
“We find that it’s really a lack of respect, to use these images as fiction and entertainment,” Morin said. “It’s hard enough for our citizens to see these images when they are used normally and respectfully on the news. Just imagine, to have them used as fiction, as if they were invented.”
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