People are angrily calling for a boycott of the new Sony Pictures-produced Peter Rabbit because of a scene in the film that involves "food allergy bullying".
The film, which introduces a CGI big screen Peter Rabbit into the 21st century, features voice acting from James Corden and Margot Robbie, among others. The plot hinges off similar themes seen in Beatrix Potter's original books and finds Peter Rabbit feuding with his usual nemesis, Mr McGregor, and McGregor's nephew Tom.
The scene has sparked responses from organisations including the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA) and Food Allergy Research & Education. "The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction ... is a serious matter," said KFA in a statement on its Facebook.
Hundreds of people on social media have also voiced their concern, with a petition started asking for an apology from Sony Pictures.
And the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit also began trending this past weekend.
Stephanie Lowe of Turn It Teal, an awareness campaign aiming to raise food allergy awareness around the world, told BuzzFeed News she was worried about the film being potentially played in schools. "My hope is that parents are aware of the issues and judge for themselves if their children can handle the situation portrayed in the film," she said.
Sony Pictures and the filmmakers of Peter Rabbit apologised on Monday morning in a joint statement, saying the film "should not have made light" of a character having serious allergies, "even in a cartoonish, slapstick way".
“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s arch nemesis, 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.”