To celebrate its launch in Canada, Netflix closed off a Toronto street yesterday, drawing a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers. Or at least that’s how it appeared. Actually, the gathered crowd were a group of extras who had been given instruction sheets and roles to play, like “mothers” or “film buffs.” Reporters unknowingly interviewed the extras.
“Extras are to look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada,” read the instruction sheet, according to The Globe and Mail.
Chatter on Twitter revealed what was happening and Netflix has apologized. The instruction sheet says the event was a “corporate documentary.”
But the response from a Netflix spokesperson doesn’t really make any sense.
“I was unaware that script was handed out to extras and that was not supposed to happen,” said Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications for Netflix. “Some people got carried away and it’s embarrassing to Netflix.”
According to an AP story, a Netflix spokesman said the company couldn’t get permission to close an entire street for the event so it got a film permit and hired actors to pretend to shoot a documentary.
The Globe and Mail also reports that Netflix faces stiff competition up north. Sounds like the company may have gotten off to a bumpy start.