Netflix Apologizes to Lac-Mégantic for Using Rail Disaster Footage in 'Bird Box'

However, the footage will not be removed from the film
Netflix Apologizes to Lac-Mégantic for Using Rail Disaster Footage in 'Bird Box'
After being accused of using footage of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in its original film Bird Box earlier this month, Netflix has issued an apology to residents of the Quebec town.

CBC reports that in an open letter to the community, Netflix director of global public policy Corie Wright said the company was not aware of the source of the footage. "We apologize to the Lac-Mégantic community and to Netflix members who were saddened by seeing this footage," she said.

Last week, Netflix announced it would not be removing the footage from Bird Box. Town spokesperson Karine Dubé told the CBC that the streaming service reached out to municipal officials and requested a meeting with the mayor last Thursday (January 17).

However, the open letter explains how stock footage and images are used on Netflix and other services, and how widespread use prevents the service from changing finished content. As such, the footage will not be removed from Bird Box.

In July 2013, an unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, exploding and killing 47 people, in addition to destroying roughly half of the downtown area. It stands as one of the deadliest disasters in Canadian history.

Footage of the disaster was also used in television series Travelers. That show's production company, Toronto-based Peacock Alley Entertainment, previously told the Canadian Press that it had acquired the footage through New York City-based stock image vendor Pond 5.

In a statement, Peacock Alley apologized for using the footage, writing that the company "had no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013," and that it will try to replace the images.

Pond 5 CEO Jason Teichman told the CBC that the company is now working to better inform customers of the context surrounding the media they sell. 

"Something as sensitive as that and as tragic as that, we should have taken greater efforts to make sure that the true character of that story was represented, and we didn't live up to our own goals," he told the broadcaster. "We could have done more."