The makers of Peter Rabbit have apologised amid backlash over a particular scene that’s offended allergy sufferers and advocacy groups alike.
In a scene from the film, Tom McGregor – played by Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson – has blueberries pelted at him by a gang of bunnies – including Peter Rabbit – despite suffering a blueberry allergy.
So perhaps it’s not all that surprising that his character then went into anaphylaxis and had to administer an epinephrine injection (EpiPen) to recover.
The scene prompted groups to call for a boycott of the film on the grounds of it encouraging children to do the same – and now the company behind the film has released a statement apologising.
Sony Pictures released a joint statement saying the film, ‘should not have made light’ of a character’s allergy ‘even in a cartoonish, slapstick way’.
The company said: ‘We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologise.’
It came after an advisory notice was published on the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation Facebook page that read: ‘The new movie, Peter Rabbit, has a scene that may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy. A character is intentionally attacked with his allergen, leading to anaphylaxis and the use of epinephrine. Parents should be aware of this before your children see the movie so you can talk with your child(ren) about it.
‘KFA believes that food allergy “jokes” are harmful to our community. During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment. The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction (often referred to as an impending sense of doom) is a serious matter.
It continued: ‘Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger. ‘We will keep you updated on our actions on this issue..’
Not long after the post, a petition calling for Sony Pictures to apologise quickly attracted over 9,000 signatures.
Peter Rabbit also stars Margot Robbie and James Corden and was released in the US on 3 February and is due for release in the UK on 16 March.