Aardman Animations is modifying a scene in its upcoming stop-motion 3D pic The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (UK title: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists) following objections from leprosy groups including Lepra Health In Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP). The swashbuckler is voiced by Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, David Tennant, Salma Hayek and others. In a scene in the trailer that was released in December, Grant’s Pirate Captain lands on a ship demanding gold, but is told by a crew member, “Afraid we don’t have any gold old man, this is a leper boat. See,” and with that, his arm falls off. The leprosy orgs were concerned such a scene could increase stigma and discrimination for disease sufferers. An Aardman spokeman gave Deadline the following statement this morning: “After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy. The last thing anyone 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.” Lepra Health in Action for its part said it was “genuinely delighted that Aardman has decided to amend the film” and praised the filmmakers’ respect and sensitivity. Some sites were still running the trailer as of midday UK time, but they were expected to come down within hours. The film is an Aardman/Sony Pictures Animation production directed by Peter Lord (Chicken Run) and Jeff Newitt. Gideon Defoe wrote the screenplay based on his own book series. The Pirates! will be released in March in the UK and the U.S.
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