Lac-Mégantic Mayor Calls Out ‘Bird Box’ for Using Rail Disaster Footage

Netflix’s 'Bird Box' and a sci-fi show called 'Travelers' used footage of the Lac-Mégantic disaster, which claimed 47 lives in 2013.

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Jan 16 2019, 5:28pm

Photos via Netflix and YouTube screenshot.

The mayor of a Quebec town that suffered a train derailment and explosion which killed nearly 50 people six years ago is upset that footage of the disaster was used in Bird Box, Netflix’s record-breaking hit film.

In the summer of 2013, a train carrying 74 cars of crude oil derailed near the town centre of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Several of the runaway rail cars exploded and for hours a hellish fire burned in the town. In the end, 47 people lost their lives and almost half of the town's downtown core (30 buildings) were destroyed.

It stands as one of the worst rail disasters in Canadian history.

Dramatic footage of the fire was taken by both onlookers and professionals, some of which is seemingly available to purchase by entertainment companies. As reported by The Canadian Press, the footage has turned up in two productions—one of which is the streaming companies biggest successes.

Speaking to Canadian Press, Lac-Mégantic Mayor Julie Morin says that she believes the footage appears in the popular Netflix horror movie, Bird Box. The Sandra Bullock film had the biggest opening ever in Netflix history, viewed by 45 million Netflix users in its first week. She’s worried it’s been showing up elsewhere as well.

“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,” Morin told Canadian Press. “You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”

The outlet, as well as Morin, confirmed the footage in Bird Box was indeed from Lac-Mégantic.

Bird Box wasn’t the only Netflix production to air the rail disaster foot age. A Canadian-made science fiction show called Travelers, which stars Eric McCormack, included a clip in its third season. In the ninth episode of the show about time travelers, a nuke goes off in the future and footage of Lac-Mégantic—with a black train car clearly burning—is shown. For Bird Box, the footage comes in one of the first scenes as Sandra Bullock paints and is informed of mass suicides happening across the world.

In both instances, the footage is being presented by the films as news footage of a disaster.

1547659384148-Screen-Shot-2019-01-16-at-114052-AM
The 11 clips that appear when you search Lac-Mégantic on Pond 5 's website.

Canadian Press contacted Netflix, who told them Travelers is working to remove the footage and that they’re looking into the whether or not Bird Box used footage of the disaster. It’s not rare for stock video companies to sell disaster footage to production companies. The footage for Travelers came from Pond 5, a stock image provider out of New York—it’s likely the footage used in Bird Box was acquired in a similar way.

It’s not hard to find available footage of the Lac-Mégantic derailment on Pond 5’s website, a quick search by VICE turned up 11 clips of the disaster available for purchase. One was entitled “Young Boy Riding Bicycle Near Spectacular Train Crash With Fire.”

It runs for $689.

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