×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Alexander Skarsgard in the front rowGiorgio

    Film News Roundup: Alexander Skarsgard Joins 'Passing' With Tessa Thompson

    In today’s film news roundup, Taryn Manning, Shane West and Alexander Skarsgård have new roles, and Warner Bros. unveils a modernized logo. CASTINGS Alexander Skarsgård has signed on to join Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga and André Holland in “Passing.” The film marks Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut and is based on a screenplay that Hall adapted [...]

  • Spike Lee

    Spike Lee to Direct Hip-Hop Love Story 'Prince of Cats'

    Spike Lee will direct a big-screen version of the hip-hop love story “Prince of Cats,” based on Ron Wimberly’s graphic novel. Legendary has been developing the project with Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions. Lee, who won the Academy Award for adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman,” will also re-write the “Prince of Cats” script with [...]

  • DOLEMITE IS MY NAME!, 2019, DOL_Unit_06284.RAF

    'Dolemite Is My Name' Writer Larry Karaszewski Recalls 10-Year Journey to Make Rudy Ray Moore Biopic

    “Harriet” writer-director Kasi Lemmons was in a reflective mood at Tuesday night’s “Behind the Scene” event at the Formosa Cafe in West Hollywood, sponsored by the Writers Guild of America West. The biopic, starring Cynthia Erivo as slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, has been receiving buzz since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s Lemmons’ [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Abrams Artists Agency Signs Writers Guild Deal

    In a major triumph for the Writers Guild of America, the Abrams Artists Agency has signed the WGA’s Code of Conduct, allowing the agency to return to representing WGA members again. Chairman Adam Bold made the announcement Wednesday, saying that the agency wants to put its clients back to work. He also noted WGA West [...]

  • Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis

    Holocaust Experts Debate 'Jojo Rabbit' at Museum of Tolerance Screening

    With its comedic, cartoonish portrayal of Nazis, Taika Waititi’s satirical Hitler youth tale “Jojo Rabbit” has polarized critics and audiences alike. And that division continued to be stirred at Tuesday night’s screening of the film at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, where Liebe Geft, director of the museum, moderated a heated panel discussion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content