‘Peter Rabbit’ makers apologise amid allergy scene backlash

New film faces boycott campaign over sequence where a character is pelted with berries

Peter Rabbit in a scene from  the new ‘Peter Rabbit’ film. Photograph: Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP

Peter Rabbit in a scene from the new ‘Peter Rabbit’ film. Photograph: Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP

 

The film-makers and the studio behind the new Peter Rabbit film have apologised for insensitively depicting a character’s allergy in a scene in the film that has prompted backlash online.

Sony Pictures said in a joint statement with the film-makers that “food allergies are a serious issue” and the film “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to blackberries, “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way”.

In Peter Rabbit, the character of Mr McGregor is allergic to blackberries. In the controversial scene, the rabbits fling the fruit at him and he is forced to use an EpiPen.

The charity group Kids with Food Allergies posted a warning about the scene on its Facebook page on Friday, prompting some on Twitter to start using the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.

The group said that allergy jokes are harmful to their community and that making light of the condition “encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously”.

Kenneth Mendez, the president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, wrote an open letter to the studio on Saturday asking for the opportunity to educate the company and the film’s cast on the realities of food allergies. He urged the studio to “examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared toward a young audience”.

The studio and film-makers said that they “sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologise”. – AP