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Bird Box became Netflix's biggest hit over the holidays, but buzz around the film has been more so about a number of controversies more than anything else. After the streaming service had to do damage control on the danger of the trending Bird Box Challenge, the film has also angered Canadian officials over some footage of a 2013 Quebec rail disaster. Now, the country’s parliament has passed a motion, asking that Netflix pay the town affected to further express their gripes with the streaming giant.
A couple of weeks ago, Canadians showed their disapproval for the use of real footage of a train crash that occurred in Lac-Megantic, Quebec after an unattended train carrying crude oil went off the tracks and exploded, killing 47 people. The tragedy was in the scene when Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson’s characters turn on the news to see disasters happening all over Europe.
Netflix was asked to remove the footage of the train tragedy, which the streaming service licensed by stock image vendor Pond 5. While Netflix apologized, they refused to switch out footage that the vendor said they took “out of context” in Bird Box, and additionally used in a recent scene in season three of Netflix's Travelers.
In a more aggressive move from Canadian Parliament Wednesday, a new non-binding motion demands Netflix compensates the people of Lac-Megantic. Legislator Pierre Nantel told The Hollywood Reporter, “For people in Lac-Megantic, they saw images of their own downtown burning, and could imagine their own family members in it” to express the potential tragic effect the film could have on those affected.
When Bird Box was released, some Canadians took to social media to warn people about the footage’s potential to trigger PTSD and other victimization surrounding the train incident for those who witnessed or lost loved ones in the tragedy.
Since the motion was passed, Netflix has refused to comment but in a prior letter to Quebec’s culture minister the streaming service recognized Canada’s frustration and grief surrounding seeing images of the incident but said they cannot make alterations to “finished content”.
Netflix certainly doesn’t seem to be budging about Canada’s concerns thus far, though this isn’t the first headache the company has had to deal with for Bird Box. When videos of people completing the Bird Box Challenge flurried though the internet in early January, Netflix had to issue a warning, imploring people to not do it for the memes. A caution ignored by one teen who was in a car accident, due to driving while blindfolded, thankfully she wasn’t injured.
Netflix’s Bird Box is currently available to stream on their site and be sure to check out what new movie and television titles will make their way to the platform in February.