Aardman Animation to Change Scene Featuring Leper Boat in ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’

Outcry by leprosy charities at movie trailer leads to changes by Bristol-based animation powerhouse.

LONDON – Bristol-based animation banner Aardman is to alter a scene in its upcoming stop motion 3D pic Band of Misfits in the wake of objections from leprosy groups including Lepra Health In Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP).

With a cast boasting the acting chops of Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, David Tennant and Salma Hayek, the movie’s trailer has caused an issue with leprosy campaigning groups.

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In the trailer the Grant-voiced 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.” After issuing the explanation, the sailor’s arm drops off.

Leprosy groups expressed concern that the scene could increase the stigma and discrimination felt by people suffering from leprosy.

Aardman has said it will change the scene in the wake of the objections.

An official statement from the Bristol-based animation house says it had no intention of upsetting sufferers of the disease.

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“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,” the statement said.

Directed by Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt, the movie is written by Gideon Defoe based on his own series of books and is co-produced by Sony Pictures Animation and due for release in March on both sides of the pond.

Aardman Animation’s most recent creation, Arthur Christmas, hit theaters late last year and has taken more than $46 million worldwide to date.

Watch the trailer for "The Pirates: Band of Misfits":