Sony and the makers of Peter Rabbit have offered a public apology after the film faced backlash for featuring a scene that made light of a character’s food allergies. In the film, Peter’s nemesis, Mr. McGregor (played by Domhnall Gleeson), is allergic to blackberries. Knowing this, Peter and the other rabbits throw blackberries at him and force the hapless man to use his EpiPen to avoid a terrible allergic reaction.
Like the rest of the movie, the entire sequence played as silly and mischievous rather than sinister but some felt these antics crossed the line by making fun of someone for having allergies. The official Kids with Food Allergies Facebook page posted a warning about the scene, which caused some people to even suggest boycotting Peter Rabbit in order to fight against this alleged food bullying. Kenneth Mendez, the president and chief executive of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, also bashed the film 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.”
Sony quickly released an official statement over the weekend apologizing to anyone who may have been offended by the scene.
“Food allergies are a serious issue,” the statement read. “Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
But while many were offended, others felt that Sony should not have apologized at all, saying that it was just a silly scene from a kid’s movie and wasn’t meant to poke fun of anyone with allergies. Either way, the backlash does not appear to be having a major effect on Peter Rabbit‘s performance at the box office, as the film beat expectations and earned $25 million in its first weekend.