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Bird Box second Netflix project to come under fire for real-world disaster footage

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Jan 17, 2019

In recent weeks, the Netflix movie Bird Box made headlines because it was inspiring people to drive while blindfolded in what was known as the "Bird Box Challenge." Now another controversy surrounding the Susanne Bier-directed horror flick has reared its ugly head.

Per Entertainment Weekly, the film has been criticized for its use of real-world footage of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, which killed over 40 people and devastated downtown property in Quebec, Canada. The crash was particularly destructive as the derailed train had been transporting crude oil, which is both highly flammable and combustible.

Bird Box is actually the second Netflix offering to come under the umbrella of this controversy. The science fiction drama Travelers was the first to be called out for using footage of the tragedy. The series, created by Stargate SG-1's Brad Wright, follows a group of time travelers attempting to create a better future for humanity by returning to the 21st century.

"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, in a statement published by EW. "You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side."

While the production company behind Travelers (some of it filmed in Canada) apologized and promised to remove the footage from its show, EW confirms that the footage used in Bird Box (bought from a general stock footage vendor) will remain in the movie, which garnered 45 million views during its first week on Netflix.

As the report points out, it is common for movies about the end of the world to include blink-and-you'll-miss-it footage of societal unrest and tragedy to underscore the severity of the fictional apocalypse.

Based on the 2014 novel by Josh Malerman, Bird Box centers around the arrival of beings that drive people to commit suicide simply by looking at them. Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Lil Rel Howery, B.D. Wong, Tom Hollander, and Machine Gun Kelly were all a part of the ensemble cast.


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