Sony apologizes for insensitive Peter Rabbit food-allergy scene after backlash

Peter Rabbit (James Corden) with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) in Peter Rabbit. (Photo: Sony Pictures)
Peter Rabbit (James Corden) with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) in Peter Rabbit. (Photo: Sony Pictures)

The new Peter Rabbit movie already wasn’t having the best weekend. It came in second at the box office to the much-maligned Fifty Shades Freed amidst a slew of mixed reviews noting that the movie turns the classic title character into “an insufferable dick,” as The A.V. Club’s Jesse Hassenger put it. Then the movie was slammed with a boycott.


Peter Rabbit involves the age-old standoff between the title bunny and Mr. McGregor, as in the gentle, beloved books of old. But in the movie, Peter and his friends wage an all-out war against Mr. McGregor, including taking advantage of the fact that he is allergic to blackberries, pummeling him with the berries until he goes into anaphylactic shock and has to find an epi pen. This scene is unsurprisingly upsetting to parents of children with allergies: Not only may those children find that scene frightening, it also indicates how to bully a person with allergies. As The Washington Post reports today:

The scene prompted backlash from allergy advocacy groups ike the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, and parents of children with food allergies, who said the scene “mocked an attack that in real life could have proved fatal. The segment led to a hashtag— #boycottpeterrabbit—and an online petition demanding an apology.”

That apology arrived yesterday from Sony Pictures, which issued “a joint statement with the filmmakers, saying that food allergies are a serious issue and the film ‘should not have made light’ of a character being allergic to blackberries ‘even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.’” The filmmakers also stated that they “sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize,” according to The Associated Press.

Unsurprisingly, on Twitter, reactions ranged to just suggesting staying away from Peter Rabbit if you don’t want to see it to out-and-out condemnation. Frankly, it just gives us another reason to stay away from a movie that already looks pretty terrible, and we’ll take our kids to anything in the theater. Like Cars 3.


Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.



So you have a movie about a dude trying to kill cute little rabbits, but it’s a bridge too far when the rabbits try to kill the dude? That’s how nature works. It’s kill or be killed, children. The sooner you learn that the sooner, you can get over your allergies and make those allergies work for you (okay, not really).