Sony Pictures apologises to food allergy sufferers over Peter Rabbit scene

Groups representing allergy sufferers say a scene in Sony Pictures' Peter Rabbit children's film made light of a serious and dangerous health problem. PHOTO: SONY PICTURES

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Movie studio Sony Pictures apologised on Monday (Feb 12) for a scene in its Peter Rabbit children's film after an online outcry from sufferers of food allergies.

The scene in question portrays rabbit archenemy Mr McGregor, who is allergic to blackberries, being pelted with the berries by a gang of bunnies. He ultimately has an allergic reaction that requires the use of epinephrine.

The animated movie, based on the beloved animal characters created by British author Beatrix Potter, began its worldwide rollout last week.

Groups representing allergy sufferers say the scene made light of a serious and dangerous health problem. The criticism prompted calls on social media to boycott the film, under the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.

"Food allergies are a serious issue," Sony Pictures and the Peter Rabbit film-makers said in a statement.

"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." The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, last week sent a letter to Sony and the film-makers raising concerns about the scene.

In a related Facebook post, the group said "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".

Peter Rabbit, starring voice actors James Corden and Domhnall Gleeson, took US$25 million (S$33.2 million) at the North American box office on its opening weekend.

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