×

Netflix Will Cut ‘Bird Box’ Footage of Canadian Train-Crash Tragedy

Netflix, in an about-face after an outcry over footage in its original film “Bird Box” of the 2013 deadly train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, said it will now remove the offending segment.

Netflix and the filmmakers of ‘Bird Box’ have decided to replace the clip,” a company spokesman said in an email to Variety. “We’re sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Mégantic community.”

Previously, Netflix had said it would not remove the footage showing the aftermath of the train crash, which killed an estimated 47 people after a freight train carrying crude oil derailed in the downtown area of the town of Lac-Mégantic. But after pressure from Canadian officials — including Quebec culture and communications minister Nathalie Roy, who in January sent an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings urging the footage to be cut — Netflix decided to remove the clip.

In a tweet Thursday, Roy (translated from French), said: “This gesture was expected out of respect for the victims of this horrific drama, their loved ones and the entire community of #LacMégantic. This result shows that by being in solidarity and by putting our efforts together, anything is possible.”

The edited version of “Bird Box” eliminating the Lac-Mégantic stock footage is expected to be updated on the service within a few weeks. That footage is being replaced with a clip from an older U.S. TV series (not stock footage); Netflix didn’t identify the TV show.

The footage of the Lac-Mégantic disaster used in “Bird Box” came from stock-footage house Pond5. In a statement, New York-based Pond5 said, “It has recently come to our attention that our footage depicting the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster was taken out of context and used in entertainment programming. We deeply regret that this happened and sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended, especially the victims and their families.” Pond5-supplied footage from the train crash also was used in the third season of Netflix’s “Travelers,” which Netflix had already agreed to remove. Pond5 also said it is contacting all customers who have purchased any related clips “to ensure they are aware of the sensitive nature of this footage.”

“Bird Box” has registered as one of Netflix’s most popular originals ever. The streamer boasted of the strong reception for the thriller, claiming 45 million member accounts watched at least 70% of Sandra Bullock-starrer in the first seven days of its Dec. 21 release — and upwards of 80 million in the first four weeks. The initial claim was bolstered by Nielsen data.

In “Bird Box,” Bullock plays a single mom trying to save her kid’s lives after some kind of alien creatures (not shown in the movie) descend on Earth and somehow inflict psychic trauma that causes people to kill themselves. Survivors must wear blindfolds or be exposed to supernatural entities that embody their deepest fears and drive them to suicide.

“Bird Box” is directed by Susanne Bier, based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel of the same name. The cast also includes Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”) and Bullock’s “Ocean’s 8” co-star Sarah Paulson, along with John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, BD Wong, Machine Gun Kelly and Tom Hollander.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Rita And Tom Hanks Coronavirus

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson Return to U.S. After Coronavirus Diagnosis in Australia

    Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are back home in the U.S. after they revealed they had contracted coronavirus and were quarantined in Australia. Hanks gave an update on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking everyone who had helped them in Australia and assuring people that they are still isolating themselves in the U.S. “Hey, folks…We’re home now [...]

  • Film Comment Magazine Goes on Hiatus

    Film Comment Magazine to Go on Hiatus as Film at Lincoln Center Lays Off Half of Staff

    Many companies are being financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the Film at Lincoln Center is the latest organization to have to lay off employees and pause some of their operations. On Friday, executive director Lesli Klainberg released a memo announcing that the center had to furlough or lay off about half of its [...]

  • "Birds of Prey" egg sandwich

    'Birds of Prey' Actor Bruno Oliver Recreates Harley Quinn's Famous Sandwich

    When actor Bruno Oliver booked the role of short order cook Sal in “Birds of Prey: (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” he had no idea how significant Sal and his breakfast sandwich were to the story. “You couldn’t tell from the audition necessarily and as actors, we always worry about our scenes [...]

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content