“A Dog’s Purpose” opened over the weekend to protests, mixed reviews and box office receipts that, while impressive, were slightly less than those it expected before controversy arose over the treatment of one of its canine stars.
The film pulled in $18.4 million over the weekend — less than the estimated $24 million expected before a video was leaked showing a German shepherd resisting efforts to have him perform a stunt.
After the video appeared on TMZ, PETA called for a boycott of the movie.
Initially, many of those involved in making the movie — including its director and actor Josh Gad — said the video was disturbing.
Gad, who supplies the voice of the continually reincarnating dog in the movie, posted on Twitter that the footage left him “shaken and sad … As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”
The days leading up to the movie’s release saw a scheduled press preview canceled, Gad go silent, and a well choreographed defense of the movie that included appearances by its star, Dennis Quaid, who insisted no animals were harmed and that the video was misleading.
Even the American Humane Association, which monitors the treatment of animals in TV and movie productions — after suspending the monitor assigned to the film and before its investigation was finished — came out in support of the movie in a PETA-bashing letter published by its CEO.
The studio provided additional footage of the dog willingly performing the stunt during rehearsals to support their stance that he was not being mistreated. The movie’s makers also questioned why the video was leaked a year and a half after it was made — and the week before the movie’s opening — suggesting something nefarious was going on.
Dog lovers, generally a united bunch, found themselves on both sides of the issue — some saying the video showed the dog was pushed too far and supporting the boycott; others saying the leaked video lacked context, that the stunt was eventually called off for that day after the dog resisted, and that nothing cruel took place.
For many fans of the best selling book, there was a feeling that the movie’s sweet, dog-loving message didn’t deserve to be tarnished by a video they viewed as dubious.
Forty-five seconds of the video shows the German shepherd being urged to get into the pool, and dipped into it against his will. Another shorter piece of the video — believed to have been recorded on a different day — shows him struggling in the water and going under.
The water in the pool was being churned by outboard motors to create the effect of river rapids.
While the dog had willingly jumped into the pool during rehearsals, the location of where he was entering the pool was changed on the day of filming.
On opening night, there were small protests, including one outside the Arclight theater in Hollywood. Dozens of protesters held up signs that read, “A dog’s purpose is to be loved. Period” and they chanted “There’s no excuse for animal abuse! Dog’s aren’t props!”
PETA and others argued that the effects the movie makers were after could have been achieved with computer graphics, but the movie’s makers said that would have been too expensive.
Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media’s film was released by Universal Pictures, and its weekend receipts were nearly enough to cover the estimated cost of making it, about $22 million.
“A Dog’s Purpose” came in second to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” which tells the story of a man with dissociative identity disorder who takes three teens hostage.
Industry consultants say the leaked video and boycott had some impact on the film’s opening, but apparently a minimal one.
“A Dog’s Purpose is based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, which has spent longer on USA Today’s best-selling book list than any dog book since “Marley & Me.”
(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 1st, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a dogs purpose, american humane association, book, box office, bruce cameron, dennis quaid, dogs in movies, entertainment, filming, hercules, josh gad, movie, opening, peta, protests, sales, stunt, tickets, video, weekend
The annual dog meat festival in the Southern China city of Yulin opened yesterday — despite what was probably the heaviest barrage of criticism and protest in its history.
As vendors slaughtered dogs and cooked their meat in dozens of restaurants across the city, animal welfare activists attempted to disrupt the opening of the 10-day festival.
Some bought dogs from dealers to save them from being slaughtered. Others argued with local residents, and police were intervening to prevent physical confrontations, according to news reports.
“We came to Yulin to tell people here dogs are our friends. They should not kill dogs in such a cruel way and many of the dogs they killed are pet dogs,” said Yang Yuhua, a volunteer from the central city of Chongqing.
While most of the meat used at the festival comes from farm dogs raised for that purpose, critics say strays and stolen pet dogs often end up in the mix.
One day into the festival, local residents were complaining that outsiders were ruining the tradition.
“It’s been a tradition for years for us to celebrate the festival. We can’t change it simply because they (animal lovers) love dogs,” a local resident told The Associated Press. “They don’t want us to eat dog meat. We eat dog meat to celebrate the festival, but since they’ve come here, they’ve ruined our mood completely.”
Promoters say eating dog meat during the summer helps ward off the heat and maintain a healthy metabolism.
More than 10,000 animals are killed each year for the summer solstice festival, which has become a focal point for those seeking to halt the tradition of eating dog in China and other Asian countries.
An estimated 10 million to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year in China.
This year, the list of celebrities speaking out against the practice grew.
Matt Damon, Pamela Anderson, Minnie Driver and Joaquin Phoenix were among those appearing in a video (above) produced by the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation.
Yulin’s local government has sought to distance itself from the event, forbidding its employees from attending and limiting its size by shutting down some dog markets and slaughter houses.
“The so-called dog-meat eating festival has never been officially recognized by government or by any regulations or laws,” said an official reached by telephone at the city government’s general office.
“We hold meetings every time before the so-called festival, discussing counter measures such as deploying local police, business and sanitary authorities to inspect and deal with those who sell dogs,” he said.
Between those efforts and the international criticism that seems to increase every year, some organizations say the number of dogs killed for the event might be decreasing.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 22nd, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal hope & wellness foundation, animal welfare, animals, celebrities, china, criticism, dog, dog meat, dog meat festival, dogs, festival, pets, protests, yulin
A Japanese company has canned its plan to buy the meat of endangered whales killed in the waters around Iceland and sell it in the form of luxury dog treats.
An Icelandic firm, Hvalur hf, set to resume commercial whaling next month, had planned to kill up to 174 endangered fin whales and sell the meat to Tokyo-based Michinoku Farm, the Telegraph reported.
Protests from environmentalists prompted the Japanese company to cancel its order, but the whale hunt is still on.
“It’s outrageous,” said Claire Perry of the Environmental Investigation Agency. “It is grotesque to kill an endangered species and then ship it half way around the world in order to feed it to dogs.”
Takuma Konno, head of Michinoku, confirmed that plan has been scrapped.
“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan,” he said. “We just wanted to supply a wide variety of food for them. We consider dogs as just as important as whales. But it’s not worth selling the product if it risks disturbing some people.”
That hasn’t changed plans for whalers in Iceland, who, after a three year break, will resume hunting for fin whales next month.
Iceland, along with Norway and Japan, refuses to abide by the moratorium on whaling.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: cancelled, chews, commercial, company, dog chews, dog food, dog treats, dropped, endangered, environmental investigation agency, fin whales, fishing, hunt, hvalur hf, iceland, japan, japanese, luxury, meat, michinoku, michinoku farms, outcry, plan, protests, public, reaction, selling, sold, whale hunt, whales, whaling
A pastor in Dallas who apparently thinks that “do unto others” stuff doesn’t apply to canines is drawing criticism for how he’s handling the matter of a stray dog who has taken up residence behind the church.
For several months now, local rescuers have been trying to help the dog and animal control officials have been trying to capture it. That’s not good enough for the pastor, who reportedly says he plans to hire someone to shoot it, and who scolded a 70-year-old woman who showed up to feed it.
Let’s stop for a moment and ponder who’s acting in a more Godly manner here.
Pastor Joseph Stabile says the dog is aggressive to parishioners of the Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church, at Midway and Northwest Highway. Others dispute that, saying the dog is shy and avoids people, according to a report by Examiner.com’s animal rescue blogger Rebecca Poling in Dallas, who is also a member of the Metroplex Animal Coalition, one of the organizations raising questions about the pastor’s behavior.
Poling points out that no parishioners have come forward to back up the pastor’s claim the dog is aggressive.
Dallas Animal Services has tried to capture the dog, even using a tranquilizer gun at one point. A group of well-intentioned dog lovers have joined in the cause, trying to humanely catch the dog, known as John Wesley, but he continues to elude everyone.
The group has started a Facebook page, a Care2 petition and has written letters to church and city officials. They also plan Sunday morning protests outside the church to let parishioners know what their pastor is doing.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal services, animal welfare, animals, church, cochran chapel, dallas, dog, joseph, methodist, metroplex animal coalition, news, pastor, petition, pets, protests, rebecca poling, stabile, stray, texas
Dog owners and advocates in Hawaii are rallying in protest of a proposed state law to ban pit bulls.
In the first of several protests planned on Oahu, dozens of dog owners called Sunday for state lawmakers to dismiss a bill that would ban pit bulls, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported.
Hundreds of Oahu residents signed a petition started by several community members at a rally at Magic Island to protest the bill, as dozens of residents, wearing shirts that protest breed-specific legislation, lined Ala Moana Boulevard to draw awareness to their cause.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american staffordshire terrier, bans, breed, breed specific legislation, breeds, hawaii, illegal, kauai, legislation, maui, misdemanor, moloka, oahu, own, pit bull, pit bull ban, pit bulls, proposal, protests, sell, staffordshire bull terrier, the big island
Protesters turned out at about 25 Petland stores in 15 states over the weekend in a choreographed series of demonstrations against the marketing of puppy mill puppies.
Petland, after an 8-month investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, was identified by the organization as the largest retail supporter of puppy mills in the nation.
HSUS says its investigation revealed that many Petland stores across the country are marketing puppy mill puppies to unsuspecting consumers.
Petland denies the accusation.
“To encourage the company to mend its way, we’ve organized rallies at 22 Petland stores across the country this Saturday,” HSUS President Wayne Pacelle said in his blog, “A Humane Nation.”
HSUS is encouraging Petland to allow adoptions in its stores, as PETCO and PetSmart do, rather than selling puppies.
Petland says the charges are untrue and slanderous. Here’s the full text of a press release the company issued Friday:
Posted by John Woestendiek January 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: a humane nation, company, dallas, demonstrations, denial, hsus, humane society, marketed, ohio, pennsylvania, pet stores, petco, petland, pets, petsmart, protests, puppies, puppy mills, pups, response, sales, slanderous, stores, untrue, wayne pacelle