Sony Pictures has apologized for joking about a life-threatening condition in its new animated movie that's based on Beatrix Potter’s beloved book.

By Marisa Cohen
Updated February 12, 2018
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Peter Rabbit promo poster
Credit: Pacific Press/Getty Images

Sony Pictures landed in major hot water this weekend when parents got an eyeful of Peter Rabbit, the new animated kid-flick based on Beatrix Potter’s beloved stories. In this version of the story, the grumpy farmer, Mr. McGregor (played by one-time Weasley brother Domhnall Gleeson), mentions that he has an allergy to blackberries. So what do the cotton-tailed bunnies do? They use blackberries as a weapon, shooting them into the farmer’s mouth until he collapses and has to use an EpiPen to save himself from anaphylactic shock.

Say what?

The scene outraged parents of kids with life-threatening food allergies, and their anger soon went viral, as the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit spread like wildfire across the Internet, with parents calling out the filmmakers for “allergy bullying.” Moms such as PeachyKeen34 posted:

“I am beyond upset with @sonypictures & the movie Peter Rabbit. The movie promotes bullying others with food allergies to the point where the main characters purposefully cause another to go into anaphylactic reaction! How the hell is that funny??”

The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation posted a warning on its Facebook page, stating:

“KFA believes that food allergy "jokes" are harmful to our community… 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. 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.”

By Sunday night, Sony released a statement apologizing for its tone-deaf treatment of a life-threatening condition: “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” the studio wrote. “We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”

Despite the controversy, Peter Rabbit was the number two movie at the box office this weekend, earning $25 million. But will Sony’s apology be enough to keep the momentum going, or will parents wind up boycotting the bunny? That’s the ending of the story that remains to be written.