MONTREAL -- Netflix is apologizing to the people of Lac-Megantic after actual footage of the 2013 rail disaster that devastated the town was used in dramas on the streaming service.
The company says it had not been aware of the source of the footage used briefly in the hit movie "Bird Box" and the series "Travelers." The images show the explosion that killed 47 people when an oil-laden train derailed in the middle of downtown.
"We regret any pain caused to the Lac-Megantic community and have expressed this directly to Mayor Julie Morin," the letter addressed to Quebec Culture Minister Nathalie Roy said. Dated Monday, it is signed by Corie Wright, Netflix Inc. director of public policy.
The company says it will take steps to avoid use of images from Lac-Megantic or any similar stock footage in future productions. But it says that since use of stock footage is so widespread on Netflix, it cannot make changes to "finished content."
Roy wrote to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last Friday asking that the footage be removed from the dramatic productions and used only in documentaries. She said it was unacceptable to use human tragedies for entertainment purposes.
Netflix has refused to remove the footage from "Bird Box," despite appeals from Roy and Morin. The producers of "Travelers" have said they are working replace the Lac-Megantic images in their show.
In an emailed statement, Roy welcomed Netflix's apology and its recognition of its mistake. "However, we find it regrettable that the company is maintaining its decision not to remove the images of this tragedy from the film 'Bird Box,' when it has already accepted to do so for another of its series, which in our eyes is illogical," she said.