The studio behind Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials says it is looking into allegations that cast members took artifacts while filming on location in New Mexico.
“Twentieth Century Fox and The Scorch Trials production team take these issues very seriously and we are conducting a thorough investigation into the matter,” a representative for the studio said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “If any artifacts were mishandled or removed from the location, we will do everything to ensure they are restored.”
New Mexico Film Office director Nick Maniatis also told the AP his agency would work with Fox on the investigation.
“If artifacts were taken, we believe they should be returned immediately. Twentieth Century Fox has been extremely cooperative and shares the Film Office’s concern and sensitivity toward the matter,” Maniatis said.
The accusations came after comments made by star Dylan O’Brien during an interview last month on Live with Kelly and Michael, where he said cast members took Native American artifacts from a private ranch north of Albuquerque.
“They gave us this big speech when we got there to shoot, and they said, ‘Don’t take anything. Respect the grounds’,” O’Brien said. “They were very strict about littering and don’t take any artifacts — rocks, skulls, anything like that. And everyone just takes stuff, you know, obviously.” (His comments begin at the 4:34 mark in the video below.)
An online petition calling for the Scorch Trials cast and crew to apologize for the allegedly stolen artifacts has now gathered more than 43,000 signatures.
“While O’Brien plays it for laughs, talking about bringing a Native American curse on the cast, his flip treatment of the crew’s actions is outrageous,” the petition states. “O’Brien, the film’s director [Wes Ball], and other crew members involved need to apologize to Pueblo tribal leaders for their behavior and return any artifacts they removed from the site.”
EW has reached out to representatives for 20th Century Fox and O’Brien.