By James Hibberd
January 17, 2019 at 10:23 AM EST
Credit: Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Bird Box is provoking some controversy again.

This time it’s for the Netflix hit movie using real-life footage of Canada’s Lac-Mégantic rail tragedy, which killed more than 40 people in 2013. The footage is used early in the film to help depict the world descending into apocalyptic chaos. The footage also recently showed up in another Netflix production, the Canadian-American science fiction show Travelers.

“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,” said the mayor of Lac-Mégantic, Julie Morin. “You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”

It should be noted that using news footage of civil unrest, violence, and tragedy is very common in films, even when it’s used somewhat deceptively — standing in for a fictional event — as in the case of Bird Box. If a film features a tornado, for example, a filmmaker might employ stock footage of real tornados and their devastation.

EW has confirmed that the Bird Box footage, which was purchased from a stock-footage vendor, will stay in the film. Netflix had no comment.

But the production company for Travelers, which is partly produced in Canada, said they’ll be removing the footage from their project, noting they regret it was “taken out of context and used in entertainment programming” and apologize “to anyone who was offended, especially the victims and their families.”

Previously Bird Box ruffled feathers after fans injured themselves doing the “Bird Box challenge” — attempting to complete everyday tasks while blindfolded. Netflix issued a statement urging people to knock it off. YouTube also recently updated its guidelines in the wake of that controversy.

Netflix has claimed 45 million subscriber accounts worldwide watched at least most of the Sandra Bullock thriller during its first week in December, making it the service’s most popular original film launch ever.

Related content:

Bird Box (2018 Movie)

There is no bigger how or why, just bare survival and a steely Bullock — suddenly, fiercely ready to fight for a half-lived life.
  • Movie
  • Susanne Bier