Netlix announced Friday that it will remove controversial footage of a real train explosion from the hit horror film "Bird Box," which was released on the streaming giant in December.
The move follows months of criticism that the footage was exploiting the victims of the tragedy – a 2013 crash in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic. At the time, a train carrying crude oil came off the tracks and exploded into a ball of fire, killing 47 people.
On Friday the company said in a statement to the Associated Press that it will replace the footage with fictional scenes from a former TV series in the U.S. The company said it is “sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Megantic community.”
Netflix licensed the footage of the disaster from the stock image vendor Pond 5 and used it in “Bird Box” to set up its horrific premise. The Sandra Bullock-led thriller is about monstrous entities that compel any human who sees them to quickly try to kill themselves. To survive, the human don blindfolds.
Pond 5 originally said in January the footage “was taken out of context” and the company wanted to “sincerely apologize.” Pond 5 footage of the crash was also used in Netflix’s science fiction series “Travelers.”
The mayor of Lac-Megantic, Julie Morin, had decried the use of the footage, calling it “a lack of respect.” Criticism had also been leveled by Canadians on Twitter, who argued that the footage could trigger feelings of PTSD and additional victimization.
Quebec’s culture and communications minister, Nathalie Roy, applauded Netflix’s latest move. “This result shows that by being united and pooling our efforts, everything is possible,” Roy tweeted.
The train footage was not the only controversy in the major Netflix hit. The company urged watchers cease committing so-called “Bird Box Challenges” — like driving a car while blindfolded — and posting the stunts on YouTube.
Contributing: The Associated Press