A tweet by actor Edward Norton helped a group of Brookline fourth graders with their petition asking Universal Pictures to increase its environmental educational efforts surrounding the upcoming release of a movie based on a Dr. Seuss children's book.
The fourth grade class of Ted Wells at the private Park School in Brookline started the petition last month in response to what the class believed was a lack of an environmentally friendly message in advertisements and on the website for the soon-to-be-released movie "The Lorax."
The petition has garnered more than 57,000 signatures on the website change.org., with many of the signatures coming in the last two days after Norton tweeted about the petition twice on Tuesday.
Then Wednesday night, Wells said he got a call from an executive at Universal Pictures saying the website had been updated to add information about ways to be more environmentally friendly. Wells said Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, had apparently planned to make the changes, but efforts by the fourth grade class helped accelerate the additions to the website.
"I think the kids are feeling pretty good about themselves," Wells said today. "I'm feeling very proud of them."
A spokesperson for NBC Universal could not be reached for comment.
Wells said the idea for the petition arose after he saw advertisements for the new movie "The Lorax" scheduled to be released on March 2 on the anniversary of the late Dr. Seuss' birthday.
Wells said at first he was excited to see the movie would be coming out, but then he became concerned that the environmental friendly messages in the classic Dr. Seuss book "The Lorax" didn't appear to be in the advertisements for the movie.
He said the movie appears to be more of an action adventure film, and less of a parable in which the Lorax speaks on behalf of the trees.
"By adding to the story, they were changing the story and the focus," Wells said.
Wells said he reads "The Lorax" with his fourth grade classes every year, and when he showed them the preview for the movie, they also picked up on how the environmental themes of the book weren't being emphasized.
So the students drafted a petition entitled "Universal Pictures: Let the Lorax Speak for the Trees" as a class project and proposed ways that Universal Pictures could include environmental messages in the advertisements for the movie, including making the website for the movie more "green."
The petition was doing well, but got a huge boost in support when Norton tweeted about the petition twice Tuesday, including one tweet that linked to the petition and said: "This is really great. Let's rally and put their numbers through the roof. be sure to click 'about this petition."
Wells said kids in his class were very excited that the actor tweeted about the petition. The teacher said he's hoping all the kids and adults take away a message that they should get involved with something bigger than themselves.