In an about face, Netflix has decided to pull footage of the tragic Lac-Mégantic rail accident from its original film Bird Box — almost two months after a spokesperson said the clip will stay in the movie.
In an emailed statement to Gizmodo, a Netflix spokesperson said, “Netflix and the filmmakers of Bird Box have decided to replace the clip. We’re sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Mégantic community.” The company declined to publicly comment further on the reason behind its sudden reversal.
Quebec’s culture and communications minister Nathalie Roy praised Netflix’s decision in a tweet. Translated, the tweet reads: “This gesture was expected out of respect for the victims of this horrible tragedy, their loved ones and the entire Lac-Mégantic community. This result shows that by being united and pooling our efforts, everything is possible.”
Ce geste était attendu par respect pour les victimes de cet horrible drame, leurs proches et toute la communauté de #LacMégantic. Ce résultat démontre qu’en étant solidaires et en mettant nos efforts en commun, tout est possible. https://t.co/fxLUzhPkpv#MCC #PolQc #AssNat
— Nathalie Roy (@NathalieRoyCAQ) March 14, 2019
Lac-Mégantic Mayor Julie Morin is also satisfied with the outcome. “Yes, there was a delay,” Morin told The Canadian Press, “but in the end, the most important thing is that people came to the conclusion that the situation was significant enough to settle.”
Earlier this year, Netflix issued an apology for including footage of the fatal 2013 accident that claimed 47 lives. In the apology, Netflix noted that the imagery had been unwittingly sourced from stock footage, and because it was so widespread, the company could not make changes to finished content.
In January, a spokesperson told the Associated Press that it “will keep the clip in the movie”.
The clip in question was featured early on in the movie, during a breaking news montage detailing fictional mass suicides.
Netflix’s decision did not sit well with Canadians. Roy wrote a stern letter to Netflix in January, which was also posted to Twitter. Written in French, a portion translated by The Canadian Press reads: “These archives should never be used for any purpose other than for news or documentaries. We should never tolerate the use of human tragedies, whatever they are, for entertainment. It’s not moral or ethical.”
The Canadian Parliament also didn’t take Netflix’s initial refusal lightly. In January, it passed a motion in the House of Commons demanding Netflix remove the images and pay compensation to the Lac-Mégantic community.
According to the CBC, a version of Bird Box without the controversial footage will be released in two weeks.