Filmmaker Steven Spielberg may have already captured audience's imaginations at TIFF where the world premiere of his new film The Fabelmans was held, but he's now drawn the ire of PETA specifically because of the movie. As noticed by SlashFilm, the animal rights group issued a statement in response to the first trailer for Spielberg's new movie, taking issue with the film's apparent use of an actual monkey in one scene. Though only appearing in the trailer for a few seconds, appearing after Michelle Williams' character reveals she bought the monkey because she "needed a laugh," it's unclear how much screen time it has in the full movie. Even if it's not long, PETA wants it removed.
"Steven Spielberg was imaginative enough to create a lovable alien in 1982 and followed that up with herds of realistic computer-generated dinosaurs in the 1990s, so what's his excuse for dragging a real monkey onto a film set in 2022?" primatologist and PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler said in a statement. "His mother might have 'needed a laugh,' but PETA's not laughing-and neither should anyone else who cares about animals. This monkey scene is an endorsement of the cruel animal-training industry and an advertisement for the seedy wildlife 'pet' trade, and PETA is calling on Spielberg to live up to his legacy as an industry leader by leaving this scene on the cutting room floor."
PETA's press release on the matter denotes that monkeys used in film and TV productions "are typically separated from their mothers at a young age" and sometimes are coerced with violence by trainers. Considering The Fabelmans has already screened publicly, it seems unlikely the scene has been removed by the filmmaker (who may not even know that it's been made).
The Fabelmans is loosely inspired by Spielberg's own life, and stars Gabriel LaBelle (The Predator, American Gigolo) as 16-year-old aspiring filmmaker Sammy Fabelman. The cast also includes four-time Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) as his artistic mother, Mitzi; Paul Dano (The Batman, There Will Be Blood) as his successful scientific father, Burt; Seth Rogen (Steve Jobs, An American Pickle) as Bennie Loewy, Burt's best friend and honorary "uncle," and Academy Award nominee Judd Hirsch (Uncut Gems, Ordinary People) as Mitzi's Uncle Boris.
The Fabelmans will have a limited run in theaters on November 11th and expand into wide release on November 23rd.