Netflix has confirmed that footage from the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster was used in its hit movie Bird Box.
The stock footage appears in a sequence in the movie in which its star Sandra Bullock is flipping through news channels detailing the movie’s doomsday scenario, in which the world is gripped by unexplained ‘mass suicides’.
However, it’s emerged that the footage is in fact from the town in Quebec, taken after a freight train carrying crude oil derailed, resulting in a huge explosion and a deadly fire.
42 people died in the accident, with half of the town’s centre being destroyed.
Similar footage also appears in a second Netflix production, the sci-fi drama Travelers, though its production company has said it will be removing the offending clip.
According to the BBC, Netflix doesn’t plan to remove the footage from Bird Box, however.
The Mayor of Lac-Mégantic Julie Morin told the Canadian Press that it showed ‘a lack of respect’.
“It’s hard enough for our citizens to see these images when they are used normally and respectfully on the news. Just imagine, to have them used as fiction, as if they were invented,” she said.
“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 [the footage]. You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”
Peacock Alley Entertainment, the Canadian-American production company behind Travelers, said that it acquired the footage, which is similarly used in a fictionalised news story depicting a nuclear attack in London, from a stock footage company called Pond 5.
After apologising, it told the BBC it was ‘not aware of its specific source’.
Pond 5, meanwhile, added that it regretted that footage had been ‘taken out of context and used in entertainment programming’.
It also apologised ‘to anyone who was offended, especially the victims and their families’.
Bird Box, starring Bullock as a lone mother who has to take her children on a perilous, blindfolded cross-country journey, has been a huge hit for Netflix, with the company reporting that it’s been streamed more times than any other movie in its first seven days on release over Christmas.