'Bird Box': Netflix Removes Controversial Footage of Real-Life Tragedy

Four months after Bird Box was released, Netflix finally agreed to remove footage from the real-life train disaster from the popular Sandra Bullock-starring movie.

While the film was instantly embraced by Netflix users, the apocalyptic science fiction movie was condemned by Canada's Parliament in January for using footage from the 2013 train disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. According to the Associated Press, Parliament passed a non-binding motion asking Netflix to reimburse residents of the town for using the footage in both Bird Box and the series Travelers.

Netflix, which licensed the footage from the stock image vendor Pond5, initially apologized but refused to remove the footage. The streaming service finally agreed to remove it this week.

"Netflix and the filmmakers of Bird Box have decided to replace the clip," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly on Thursday. "We're sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Mégantic community."

In 2013, an unattended train carrying crude oil rolled down a hill in Lac-Megantic, and went off the rails. It exploded into a massive fire ball, killing 47 people.

"We know people are going to go and watch this film, and again these real images will be used," Pierre Nantel, the legislator who introduced the motion in January, said at the time. "For people in Lac-Megantic, they saw images of their own downtown burning, and could imagine their own family members in it."

Pond5 also issued a statement, apologizing for including the footage in its library and said it has since been removed.

"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," the New York-based firm said in a statement to Variety. "We deeply regret that this happened and sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended, especially the victims and their families."

Pond5 said it was also contacting other customers who may have used the footage "to ensure they are aware of the sensitive nature of this footage."

Bird Box was directed by Susanne Bier and stars Bullock as a single mother trying to save two children from monsters they cannot see, or the monsters will force them to kill themselves. Survivors have to wear blindfolds, which inspired Netflix to advise viewers against trying to get around with blindfolds in real life.

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Netflix claimed 45 million member accounts saw at least 70 percent of the 124-minute film in the first seven days of its release on Dec. 21.

Photo credit: Netflix