Warner Bros. Responds After 'The Witches' Gets Backlash From People With Disabilities

Movies getting backlash pretty much comes with the territory of making movies these days, whether the controversy is over casting choices or another aspect of the movie.

In the latest adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches, the backlash came from how the movie depicts the titular witches and how many felt it was negative representation of those with limb differences.

*The Witches* is a 2020 adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1983 novel of the same name.

A popular 1990 movie version also exists.

In the 2020 film, Anne Hathaway, portraying the head of the evil witches, is depicted with ectrodactyly, a limb abnormality also known as having a "split hand."

Many people with disabilities and disability activists were not pleased with this representation.

Paralympic athlete Amy Marren spoke up.

Amy wrote, "Yes, I am fully aware that this is a film, and these are Witches. But Witches are essentially monsters. My fear is that children will watch this film, unaware that it massively exaggerates the Roald Dahl original, and that limbs differences begin to be feared."

Many people with limb differences began using the hashtag #NotAWitch in protest of the film's portrayal of ectrodactyly.

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. said in a statement that they were "deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities. 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," their statement finished.

The film's star, Anne Hathaway, has also now spoken out about the backlash.

Anne began by sharing a video from the Lucky Fin Project about limb difference to her Instagram before making an emotional statement.

"I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches," Anne shared.

Anne explained that she wasn't apologizing just to be politically correct.

"Let me begin by saying I do my best to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others not out of some scrambling PC fear, but because not hurting others seems like a basic level of decency we should all be striving for," Anne explained.

"As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused."

"I am sorry. I did not connect limb difference with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened," Anne continued.

Anne's apology then directly addressed any children with limb differences.

"I particularly want to say I’m sorry to kids with limb differences: now that I know better I promise I’ll do better. And I owe a special apology to everyone who loves you as fiercely as I love my own kids: I’m sorry I let your family down," she wrote.

The comments on her post showed that Anne's response was very well-received.

"Thank you for addressing this and for your apology," one comment reads. "[I] do believe that it was unintentional and no upset was caused on purpose. We have been trying to raise awareness to prevent something like this occurring again - it’s great to see our voices were heard."

For fans of Anne Hathaway's with limb differences, the apology meant a lot.

"Thank you for your apology. It's a small step to more awareness and a change on how society perceives people like us," one fan wrote.

"Anne, thank you so much for this. Your words ring true and I am grateful. As someone with limb difference I was hurt by your portrayal but it also brought attention to the issue and gives us all a chance to do better," another shared.

What do you think?

Were Warner Bros. and Anne right to apologize? What do you think of the criticism in the first place? Let us know in the comments!

h/t: Variety