Warner Bros regrets 'any offence caused' amid Witches backlash over portrayal of limb difference

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Anne Hathaway in The Witches.
Anne Hathaway in The Witches.
Photo: Warner Bros
  • Warner Bros has issued an apology amid backlash of the movie The Witches.
  • The studio has been called out for its portrayal of Anne Hathaway's character in the film.
  • The Grand High Witch is missing some fingers, which resembles the congenital disorder, ectrodactyly.

Warner Bros has issued an apology after they received backlash over the depiction of Anne Hathaway's character in The Witches.

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl the film centres on a young boy who goes to live with his grandmother. When the boy and his grandma encounter some witches she whisks him away to a seaside resort but they arrive at the same time that the Grand High Witch and her coven arrive.

The Oscar winner plays the Grand High Witch in the film adaptation directed by Robert Zemeckis. In the movie, the villainous character is missing some fingers which resemble ectrodactyly, a congenital disorder that involves the deficiency or absence of one or more digits of the hand or foot.

Paralympian athlete Amy Barren called out the studio on it and expressed her disappointment in the film. She wrote: "@WarnerBrosUK was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community? [sic]"


The official Paralympic Games Twitter account also added their voice: "Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated, and disability has to be normalised."

In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Warner Bros said that they are deeply saddened to learn that the depiction of the fictional characters in the film could upset people with disabilities and that they regret any offence caused.

"In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them. This film is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme."

Lucky Fin Project – a non-profit organisation that raises awareness about limb disability – called the studio's apology empty, on Twitter.

"This is a teachable moment, and the apology is empty without any action taken by @wbpictures @hbomax. How about a disclaimer before the film and links to educate viewers about actual limb different community. [sic]"

The film which premiered on HBO Max in October releases in SA cinemas on Friday.

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