Warner Bros says sorry after disability campaigners slam new adaptation of Roald Dahl's 'The Witches'

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·3-min read

Watch: The Witches trailer

Warner Bros has apologised and 'regrets any offence caused' in the new adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches, after campaigners rounded on the depiction of disability in the film.

Anne Hathaway's character in the new movie, the Grand High Witch, is seen to have missing middle fingers on each hand, similar to the limb abnormality ectrodactyly.

But campaigners have said that it's another instance of movies linking disability or physical impairments to evil characters.

Anne Hathaway in The Witches (Credit: Warner Bros)
Anne Hathaway in The Witches. (Warner Bros)

Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren brought the matter to the attention of the studio earlier this week, asking: “Was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would affect the limb difference community?”

She posted a statement from the charity Reach, which said that “it's upsetting to something that makes a person different being represented as something scary”.

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Marren also notes that in Quentin Blake's original illustrations, the witch has all of her fingers.

The official Paralympics Twitter account also weighed in.

Read more: Hathaway will give kids nightmares with Witches transformation

“Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised,” it said.

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In a statement given to Deadline, Warner Bros said that it is “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,” they went on.

Read more: The Witches will skip UK cinemas

“It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”

However, many have already picked up the hashtag #NotAWitch, and are running with it.

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The latest iteration of Dahl's 1983 book has been directed by Robert Zemeckis, is narrated by Chris Rock and also stars Octavia Spencer and Stanley Tucci.

Reviews, have been mixed, with veteran critic Richard Roeper describing it as “far too disturbing for young children and not edgy enough to captivate adults”.

Watch: The Witches featurette