Netflix Responds to Outcry Over Birdbox

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If you follow entertainment or you’ve been on social media lately, you’re at least passing familiar with Birdbox. The Netflix original post-apocalyptic drama has been streamed endless times over the past few weeks, and the reaction has been decidedly split.

Some people love the film, and they have become Birdbox evangelists, inviting friends over to watch it with them. Others have panned the film unmercifully as boring, pointless, and silly. So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

But not all the people hating on Birdbox are doing so because of the plot or the acting. Some people are taking Netflix to task for choosing to use real footage of an actual fiery train wreck in the film.

This story begins back in 2013, when a train hauling crude oil slid down an incline, jumped the tracks and exploded into flames, killing 47 people. The footage played on the news and social media, and it horrified viewers. Residents in the town of Lac-Megantic were stunned and traumatized.

Finally, though, years after the event, media covered had dissipated and some folks were able to get back to their lives. Then came the media sensation of Birdbox. Viewers familiar with the train accident saw the footage in the movie and thought it looked familiar. Most thought, “no way, it can’t be the same…”

Turns out, it was. The public outcry started building in waves. Netflix responded that they purchased the footage from a stock image vendor, and that the footage is set up as part of a montage in the early part of the film. Translation: most people are not going to notice.

Pond 5, the stock image vendor, had a different take on the issue. The company immediately apologized, saying their footage was purchased and used “out of context,” and that they “sincerely apologize” to anyone who was hurt by the footage.

Meanwhile, this is the second Netflix original program to use footage from the train disaster. Previously, Netflix used some of the footage in the series Travelers. And the response from the company has not cowed the angry audience.

A Netflix representative told the Associated Press that the company has no plans to remove footage of the train tragedy fromBirdbox, though the spokesperson did say the company would seek to “do things differently moving forward.”

That message is not nearly enough for critics like Lac-Megantic mayor Julie Morin, who says the used of the film is disrespectful to those who lost their lives. She is not alone in those sentiments. Many Canadians have taken to social media to let their frustration be known. In response, Netflix has reportedly reached out to Morin in the hopes of assuaging some of the hurt and anger over this footage being included in the film.

  • 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian
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Ronn Torossian is CEO & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“

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