Universal Pictures has canceled a premiere and press junket scheduled for “A Dog’s Purpose” amid a growing furor over a video that shows one of its canine stars being mistreated during filming.
Distributor Universal and production company Amblin Entertainment announced late Thursday that the premiere and a Monday press day were being scrapped. The movie’s opening remains scheduled for Jan. 27.
“Because Amblin’s review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog’s Purpose to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket,” a joint release stated. “Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.”
Meanwhile, PETA has called for a boycott of the movie, actor Josh Gad has asked for an explanation, and the the American Humane Association has launched an independent investigation into why its safety representative overlooked an apparent case of cruelty during the movie’s filming.
For a scene in the movie, based on the popular book of the same name, a frightened German shepherd was forced into a churning pool of water and, at one point, sunk beneath the surface.
The video, shot in 2015, was released by TMZ — the week before the film’s opening — after the program received it from undisclosed sources.
“American Humane has reviewed the video and we are disturbed and concerned by the footage,” the AHA told PEOPLE in a statement. “When the dog showed signs of resistance to jumping in the water, the scene should have been stopped.”
The AHA monitors the safety of animals used in the entertainment industry and bestows the “No animals were harmed” label on the finished products — as it did in this case.
The AHA has suspended the safety representative who worked on the film, and has asked an outside party to conduct an investigation into the slip-up, said Mark Stubis, a spokesman for the organization.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement calling on dog lovers to boycott the film “in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.”
“Sadly, such abuse appears to be the norm, not the exception, in the entertainment industry,” PETA said.
PETA reported on its website that the company that supplied the dogs in the film, Birds & Animals Unlimited, has a problematic record. PETA said it has filed previous complaints about the company with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“I signed on for a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen. Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film … I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will.
“As a proud dog owner and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation,” he added.
In a joint statement, production company Amblin Entertainment and distributor Universal Pictures assured that Hercules, the dog in the video, was unharmed and is “happy and healthy.”
They said the movie’s crew “followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals,” but added they are looking into the situation.
Director Lasse Hallström, a three-time Oscar nominee, said he didn’t witness the scene recorded on video — even though TMZ initially reported he was on the set the day the scene was shot in Canada in 2015.
“I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.”
The movie, based on the best selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, tells the story of a golden retriever passing away, being reincarnated as a German shepherd, corgi and then a St. Bernard. In his last incarnation he is reunited with his original owner.
The one-minute video clip shows the shepherd being coaxed, then shoved into the pool. Later it shows the dog sinking under the water, at which point someone yells “cut it,” and trainers rush to the dog’s aid.
That the video was leaked the week before the much-publicized movie’s release, as opposed to shortly after it was recorded, indicates someone was waiting until it reached peak market value.
TMZ hasn’t said whether they purchased the video, or how much they paid for it.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 20th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a dogs purpose, aha, american humane, american humane association, animals, book, boycott, canceled, cruelty, dog, dogs, film, filming, forced, german shepherd, hercules, investigation, josh gad, lasse hallstrom, leaked, movie, movies, peta, pets, pool, premiere, video
Instead the movie, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” will make its American debut on Sunday on the Hallmark Channel, the New York Times reports.
The movie, which has already sold more than $45 million in tickets during its release in Asian, European and South American markets, is a contemporary retelling of the story of Hachiko, an Akita who, when his human companion, a college professor, died suddenly at work, continued for two years to return to the train station to wait for him.
Gere plays the professor and is also the movie’s producer. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also directed the Swedish coming-of-age film “My Life as a Dog.”
“Hachi” was shot primarily in Rhode Island, using three Akitas to play the different stages of the dog’s life.
“Hachi,” the Times reports, was not eagerly received by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio which controlled its distribution. Sony opted not to release it in American theaters.
“You think of all the people who really love their animals, love their dogs, love their cats, would embrace this specific movie,” Gere said. “But Sony just had no imagination for it. It was really bizarre.”
Hallstrom said the studio’s strategy was “a mistake of being overly worried about the size of the movie as opposed to the emotional impact of it.”
The Hallmark Channel, which broadcasts about 22 original movies a year, stepped in and bought it, and will premiere the film Sunday night.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 24th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a dog's tale, akita, american, animals, channel, cinema, distribution, dog, dogs, film, hachi, hachiko, hallmark, japan, japanese, lasse hallstrom, marketing, movies, pets, premiere, richard gere, showing, sony, sony pictures entertainment, theaters, u.s.
Big guys with large tattoos rescue dogs in “Rescue Ink Unleashed,” a new weekly series on the National Geographic Channel.
It premieres Sept. 25 at 10 p.m.
Rescue Ink was formed a few years ago when eight tough guys with soft spots for animals began their mission to save animals from abuse.
The New York Times had an excellent article on the group last year, which led to National Geographic’s interest. Its members include bouncers, security guards, a retired New York City detective, and some who have run afoul of the law.
Each one-hour episode of “Rescue Ink Unleashed” takes viewers on “ride-alongs” as members follow up on leads in the New York metro area. Taking an average of 100 calls a week at their headquarters on Long Island, they jump into their cars — or on their “hogs” — and confront alleged animal abusers, rescue fighting dogs, investigate stolen animals and encourage owners to give up their pets if it is in the best interest of the animals.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal, cats, dogs, ink, national geographic channel, new, new york, premiere, rescue, rescue ink, season, series, television, unleashed
TV’s “Dog Whisperer” has sniffed out some new turf: He’s launching a magazine that will hit newstands next week.
The magazine — dubbed Cesar’s Way – will be a joint venture between Cesar Millan and the New York sports management and entertainment firm IMG, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal reports that the premier issue is heavy on celebrities, with Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston and their pets filling many of its pages. Articles seem to have a celebrity bent as well, including “Can Your Dog Fix Your Marriage? Just Ask Jada Pinkett Smith” and “7-Day Doggie Detox.”
IMG says it plans to publish two issues this year and six in 2010.
Millan, following in the footsteps of Opray Winfrey and Rachel Ray, will see if his fame parlays into newsstand sales. He’s listed as editorial director of the magazine.
The new magazine joins about 60 other dog-related titles in the U.S., including Dog Fancy, Doggie Aficionado and Urban Dog, according to the National Directory of Magazines.
The Journal says Cesar’s Way faces the worst ad climate in decades — one that has forced the closure of such magazines as CosmoGirl, House & Garden and Domino. In the first half of 2009, magazine ad revenue plunged 21% from a year earlier, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
Nevertheless, IMG and Millan think they can profit from the 75 million dog owners in the U.S. and the “recession-resistance” of the pet industry. “People have continued to spend on their pets,” Millan said. “You always want to make sure your family is taken care of, and Americans believe the dog is part of the family.”
IMG isn’t the only company to see dollar signs in the pet market. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia added a pet destination to its Web site this year. People Magazine introduced PeoplePets, and Honda is touting its pet-friendly Element with features such as a cushioned pet bed in the cargo area and a pet-restraint system.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: celebrities, celebrity, cesar, cesar millan, cesar's way, dog, dog whisperer, dogs, img, magazine, milan, millan, new, opray winfrey, premier, premiere, publications, publishing, rachel ray
Perhaps its says something about my maturity level, but, when it comes to the three new dog movies on the horizon, I’m most excited about “Hotel for Dogs” — a family-friendly flick about two orphans who set up a refuge for dogs in an abandoned hotel.
The DreamWorks/Nickelodeon release opens Jan. 16.
Adapted from author Lois Duncan’s 1971 children’s book of the same name, the movie stars Don Cheadle, Emma Roberts and Lisa Kudrow.
There’s just something about those movies where kids conspire to beat the odds, overcome the bully, and/or outwit the grownups that gets me every time. Throw in a rag-tag collection of dogs and you’ve got a movie I may even leave the house for.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 26th, 2008 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, book, don cheadle, dreamworks, emma roberts, hotel, hotel for dogs, lisa kudrow, lois duncan, movie, new, nickelodeon, opening, premiere, rescue, shelter
While celebrities walked the red carpet at Thursday night’s premiere of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” about 20 protesters stood by with signs urging people not to rashly buy chihuahuas after they see the movie.
“We know the movie is cute,” says Kim Sill, who runs the campaign against puppy mills for Last Chance for Animals, the group that organized the protest. “We don’t want to say we’re against the movie. We’re against people going to a pet store after they see the movie. We want them to go to a shelter, because there are a lot of Chihuahuas there”
Animal welfare advocates have been concerned about the impact the Disney movie — which opens Oct. 3 — will have on sales of Chihuahuas, the Los Angeles Times reports in its pet blog, Unleashed.
Popular dog movies often cause a run on the breed featured. “101 Dalmatians” led to a surge in Dalmatian ownership. But when people realize the dog may not be right for their family — Damaltians are difficult and Chihuahuas are not always great with children –“they get dumped,” says Sills.
When a movie is about to open, puppy mills, she contends, gear up to produce more of that breed to supply pet stores.
There are already more Chihuahuas among registered dogs in Los Angeles County than any other breed, and shelters say they already have high concentrations of the breed.
Some of the Chihuhuas at the Carson shelter, run by the Los Angeles County shelter system, are featured in the video that Last Chance for Animals made to drive home its point about not buying Chihuahuas.
Sill said her group wanted Disney to air a pre-movie public service announcement in theaters, telling patrons to think hard before choosing a pet. “We would have happily produced it for them and given it to them,” said Sill.
The movie’s credits include an advisory that getting a pet is a serious and lifelong commitment that should be researched first.
Ed Boks, general manager of LA Animal Services, saw the movie Thursday night. “I was a bit disappointed,” he said. “The movie has a strong ‘adopt’ and ‘rescue’ message, but no ‘spay/neuter’ message. In fact, one female dog opined that she longed for a boyfriend who has NOT been ‘fixed.’
Posted by John Woestendiek September 23rd, 2008 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoption, beverly hills, breed, chihuahuas, craze, fad, la animal services, last chance for animlas, los angeles times, movies, premiere, protest, rescue, shelters