Netflix’s blockbuster original movie “Bird Box” and its science-fiction original series “Travelers” are being criticized for using real footage from the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. The train accident occurred July 6, 2013 in Quebec, Canada and left 47 people dead, making it the fourth-deadliest rail accident in Canadian history. Footage of the accident appears in “Bird Box” early on in order to show the world descending into madness following the arrival of mysterious entities who force those who look at them to kill themselves.
Julie Morin, mayor of Lac-Mégantic, issued a statement to the Canadian publication The Globe and Mail taking issue with the use of the footage in a fictional context. “I don’t know if this is happening all the time, but we are looking for assurances from Netflix that they are going to remove them,” Morin said. “You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”
Entertainment Weekly confirms Netflix will not remove the footage from “Bird Box.” The Lac-Mégantic rail disaster clips were bought from a stock-footage vendor. The same clips were used in “Travelers,” Netflix’s original series starring Eric McCormack. High school ethics teacher Guillaume Bouchard noticed real footage from the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster was being used in the show to depict a train-wreck in London.
“I thought: No way. No way did they do that,” Bouchard told The Globe and Mail. “I don’t know anyone who died in Lac-Mégantic. But if I was someone who lost someone close and I was home and I saw this, I don’t know how I would react. It wouldn’t be good.”
Carrie Mudd is the president of Peacock Alley Entertainment, the studio behind “Travelers,” and she told the publication her company acquired the footage from stock image vendor Pond 5 in New York City. “We sincerely apologize and had no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013,” Mudd said. “We are already working to replace the footage in the show.”
Both “Bird Box” and “Travelers” are now streaming on Netflix. IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for further comment.