Netflix is warning fans about the "Bird Box" Challenge on social media, inspired by its hit movie.
Netflix tweeted: "PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don't know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes."
The R-rated film stars Sandra Bullock, who plays a mother fleeing from a sinister force that turns anyone who sees it suicidal. She and her children don blindfolds to make their escape. Last week, Netflix bragged "Bird Box" was one of its most popular films ever. But now that fans are going to dangerous lengths to parody this make-believe thriller, the company is urging them to keep their eyes open to the very real risks.
Blindfolded copycats have now popped up on social media, reports CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas. While many stunts appear to have been done for laughs, others carry a little more risk. One woman nearly burned herself on a heater, and another boy repeatedly crashed into furniture with his tricycle. One toddler slammed into a wall.
"Companies are always a little concerned when something takes off that's out of their control," said Rebecca Keegan, senior film editor at the Hollywood Reporter. She also believes Netflix senses a marketing opportunity for the movie.
"The first time I heard about the quote-unquote Bird Box Challenge was by Netflix warning people about the Bird Box Challenge," Keegan said.
Bullock leads a cast of Hollywood A-listers like John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson and Trevante Rhodes. They're names that normally light up theater marquees. The company, famously secretive about its viewership figures, boasted more than 45 million accounts streamed "Bird Box" in its first seven days – numbers that can't be independently verified.
"I think Netflix really wants to demonstrate to Hollywood that it takes them seriously," Keegan said. "They want to be able to pound their chest just like you would if you had a big box office opening."
"Bird Box" was released in theaters for only a week before Netflix started streaming it. Although the movie did well in test screenings prior to its release, Keegan said even Netflix has been taken aback by the audience response.