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Three months ago, Netflix’s viral release Bird Box rocked the boat when Canadians recognized the movie included footage of Lac-Megantic Rail disaster, and demanded the streaming service remove the tragedy killed 47 people in 2013 from the film. After Netflix previously disagreed to do so, the company is no longer taking a blind eye to the controversy.
The streaming giant has now told The Canadian Press that they will now remove the images of the train disaster from Bird Box in the next two weeks, and will be replacing the footage with a new clip for the scene illustrating the chaos all around Europe to Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson’s characters before the sci-fi phenomenon that forces a group of survivors to don blindfolds hits home.
Netflix paired this announcement with an apology to the Lac-Megantic community, who have been outspoken about the potential harm the film has to family and friends to victims of the rail disaster. The town’s mayor, Julie Morin, who joined in on demanding Netflix remove the footage offered her satisfying reaction to Netflix’s new decision. In her words:
Yes, there was a delay, but I think in the end, what’s most important for me, is that we have a solution to this situation we felt was important to settle.
When requests were initially made to the streaming service about taking out the footage in Bird Box, the company responded with an apology and promise to do better in the future, but a refusal to delete the footage. Netflix cited the inability to make alterations to finished content to justify the decision.
Canada was so displeased with the rail disaster footage that the country’s parliament passed a motion asking Netflix to pay the Lac-Megantic community for their grief following the film’s release. The streaming site never seemed to address this motion, but are pulling back on their initial decision to keep the insensitive footage in Bird Box.
The same footage was also previously featured in an episode of Netflix’s Travelers television show, though the show producers agreed to remove it back in January. It’s unclear as to why Netflix took so long to comply to the Bird Box situation that angered many – perhaps the studio needed time to find a replacement clip or was waiting for the Bird Box pop culture high to wind down.
Bird Box faced multiple controversies after it was released in December 2018, including a trending Bird Box Challenge, which proved dangerous when people placing blindfolds and attempting tasks such as driving caused concern. Netflix had to issue a warning for fans to refrain from ending up “in the hospital due to memes”. Otherwise, the film was one of the streaming sites most-watched original films ever.