'The Witches' remake receives backlash from disabled community

Warner Bros. issued a statement on the controversy.

November 5, 2020, 2:16 PM

Many within the disabled community are speaking out about the HBO Max remake of "The Witches" and how the villains were depicted in the movie.

The fallout, which was first reported by Deadline, was sparked over a key difference between the 2020 remake and the Roald Dahl classic book and -- by extension -- the original 1990 film.

The witches in the HBO Max reimagining have three long fingers and not "claws instead of fingernails," as stated in the original book, which many in the disability community took offense to.

Amy Marren, an English Paralympic swimmer, explained on Tuesday why she found that alteration so troubling.

While Marren is a "huge advocate of celebrating differences and especially limb differences," she says giving those traits to villains does more harm than good. The athlete also pointed out that doctors will fashion similar three-fingered hands for disabled children or adults to help them live a normal life.

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

The Paralympic Games retweeted Marren's statement and expressed on its official Twitter, "Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised."

Warner Bros., who is behind "The Witches," shared a statement to "Good Morning America" regarding the controversy.

"We the filmmakers and Warner Bros. Pictures are deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in 'THE WITCHES' could upset people with disabilities, and regret any offense caused," the statement read. "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," the statement continued. Warner Bros. went on to say that the film centers on "the power of kindness and friendship" and they hope people can enjoy the "empowering, love-filled theme.”

"The Witches," starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer and narrated by Chris Rock, premiered on HBO Max on Oct. 22.

ABC News' Hayley FitzPatrick contributed to this report.