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Leprosy Charities Cause ‘Pirates’ Changes
Aardman Animations, the Bristol, U.K.-based animation powerhouse behind last year’s Arthur Christmas, have announced changes to their upcoming stop-motion 3-D feature The Pirates! Band of Misfits after the film’s trailer raised objections from leprosy charities, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film, based on the books by Gideon Defoe, is being directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt and stars Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven and Salma Hayek as comical sea-farers competing for the Pirate of the Year Award, battling Queen Victoria and adventuring with Charles Darwin. Sony will be releasing the film in the U.S. April 27.
The scene which raised objections from leprosy groups including Lepra Health In Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations depicts the Pirate Captain (Grant) demanding gold from a captured ship, only to be told by a crew member, “Afraid we don’t have any gold, old man, this is a leper boat. See?” at which point the crewman’s arm drops off. The groups protested the bit would increase discrimination against sufferers of the disease and Aardman has committed to changing the scene. The studio released the following statement:
“After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy. The last thing intended was to offend anyone and it is clear to us that the right way to proceed is to honor the efforts made by organizations like ILEP to educate the public about this disease.”