“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
Nothing in the UK says the holiday season is here (and says it more prematurely) quite like the annual appearance of the new Christmas ad from John Lewis.
The chain of upscale department stores goes all out on the yearly ads — presenting memorable ads that range from the soul-recharging to tear-inducing to heart-wrenching.
This year they’ve gone with the tale of a little girl who wants a trampoline for Christmas and her dog, who — after viewing assorted wildlife try it out the night before — is the first to jump on it Christmas morning.
Buster is played by a real dog, named Biff.
His acrobatics, though, are accomplished with the use of CGI. So too are the playful antics of the wildlife menagerie that tries the trampoline out the night before, including two foxes, two squirrels, a badger and a hedgehog.
The department store spent £ 1 million to make the ad, and will spend a total of £ 6 million on the campaign.
The ad, with the tagline “Gifts that everyone will love,” represents a return to gentle comedy after last year’s sentimental story of a lonely old man stuck on the moon.
As with previous ad campaigns, this one also raises money for a charity —
the Wildlife Trusts will get 10% of sales of stuffed toy versions of the animals.
The ad is being launched today, kicking off a campaign that will include various social media tie-ins and apps.
Visitors to John Lewis’s Oxford Street store will be able to try a virtual reality version of the trampoline, where they can bounce alongside the animals using Oculus Rift goggles, The Guardian reported.
John Lewis says its Christmas ad campaigns have fueled an average 16% increase in holiday sales.
(Woof in Advertising is a recurring ohmidog! feature that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find earlier posts in this archived collection.)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 10th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bouncing, boxer, buster, buster the boxer, cgi, christmas, christmas ad, department store, dog, dogs, dogs in advertising, holiday, john lewis, marketing, pets, retail, sales, season, shopping, stores, uk, woof in advertising, woof!
Whether it’s his worried and wrinkly-faced appearance or his sad situation, a shar-pei mix found abandoned at a train station in Scotland, a suitcase at his side, is garnering support, donations and love from around the world — even as his story still unravels.
Now, according to the latest reports, it seems the dog was the subject of an online transaction gone bad.
A woman has stepped forward to say she found the dog for sale online, and made arrangements to pick him up in Ayr, but then went home without him after the dog’s seller slipped away before the deal was done.
After making the train trip from her home in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, to Ayr, and seeing the dog, she had doubts about whether he was the one advertised, and began wondering if the man selling him had stolen him.
“We had been messaging back and forward for a couple of days about the dog. He was supposed to be a one-year-old and his name was Pluto,” Fin Rayner is quoted as saying in a BBC report.
After meeting the dog in the train station, she asked the seller if she could take the dog for a short walk, so she could see him in the daylight.
The man insisted on a deposit first — of £150. As she walked away, so did he.
“Before I got to the door, I looked back and he was gone — he had disappeared in his car,” she said.
She tried calling him on the phone, she said, and he agreed to come back for the dog. But, after 15 minutes, he still hadn’t showed up.
“I got into the station and the dog wasn’t settling. He was pulling on the lead and peeing everywhere,” she said. “I thought that it wasn’t my dog — I didn’t want him.”
Rayner said her panic disorder kicked in, and she began worrying that she might get caught with a stolen dog.
Needing to get a train, she informed train station officials the dog didn’t belong to her and that she was leaving him there. She said a station official suggested she tie the dog.
He was picked up and is now in the care of the Scottish SPCA, which hopes to arrange an adoption in the days ahead.
Already, he has received surgery to correct a problem, common to shar-pei’s, in which his eyelashes dig into his eyeballs — all funded by donations from the public, according to the Daily Record.
And he has been featured in a new PETA ad encouraging potential pet owners to be responsible and adopt animals rather than buy them online.
The dog had been advertised on the website Gumtree.
The ad uses the photo of the dog in the train station, and reads, “I’m Kai. I was bought and sold on Gumtree and ended up homeless.”
“When people buy a dog off the Internet, they’re not only funding breeding but also robbing a homeless animal of his or her chance at adoption,” PETA director Mimi Bekhech told the Scotsman. “Unlike animal shelters, breeders don’t screen their buyers or perform home checks, so there’s no way to ensure that the animals are going to good homes or that the new guardians receive an animal companion who’s suitable to their household.”Kai is now the star of a new advertisement, the Scotsman reports.
The man trying to sell the dog has not been identified. The suitcase contained the dog’s pillow, a toy, food bowl and food.
The Scottish SPCA traced a previous owner through the dog’s microchip but were told it was sold in 2013 to someone else.
Since taking the dog in, the SPCA has received offers to adopt him from across the globe. Donations to the Scottish SPCA — which plans to use any excess Kai donations to help rescue other abused, abandoned and injured animals, you can visit this page.
(Photo: Scottish SPCA)
After thousands of reported illnesses and 1,000 dog deaths, PetSmart and Petco have announced they will stop selling all dog and cat treats made in China.
What took the retailers so long to reach the decision, and why it will take them seven to ten months more to purge store shelves of such items, remain questions worth asking.
So too is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has been investigating the treats for years — without determining what about them is making dogs sick — can’t tell us much more than “CAUTION,” with an exclamation point.
PetSmart said it will pull from the shelves all of the China-made treat it sells by March 2015.
Petco said it will accomplish that by the end of this year.
Both retailers have about 1,300 stores nationwide.
The two national pet retailers’ decisions came after seven years of complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about jerky treats from China making pets sick, or worse.
“We know some pet parents are wary of dog and cat treats made in China, especially chicken jerky products, and we’ve heard their concerns,” said Jim Myers, Petco CEO, in a statement.
A PetSmart spokesperson, meanwhile, told USA Today it has been working toward this goal “for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers.”
Taking questionable Chinese-made treats off the shelves strikes us as a pretty simple task, as opposed to “a goal to work toward.” You just pick them up and put them in the garbage. And while “hearing customer concerns” is commendable, it shouldn’t take three or four years for them to sink in.
The move comes as sales of Chinese made jerky treats diminish, amid increasing public concerns about them.
Five years ago, 90% of the pet industry’s jerky treats were made in China, said Lisa Stark, spokeswoman for Petco. Currently, about 50% of the jerky treats sold by Petco are from China.
Since 2007, the FDA says it has received about 4,800 reports of pet illnesses, and 1,000 dog deaths, possibly related to the consumption of jerky treats. The FDA, while issuing warnings, says it has yet to establish any direct link between the pet illnesses and the China-made treats.
Most of the complaints involved chicken jerky, but others included duck, sweet potato and chicken, according to the FDA.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 23rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, canyon creek, chicken jerky, china, china-made, chinese, complaints, deaths, dog, dog treats, dogs, duck, fda, health, illness, industry, jerky, jerky treats, kingdom pets, made in china, milos kitchen, national, nationwide, petco, pets, petsmart, pulling, removing, safety, sales, stores, sweet potato, treats, vitality, waggin train
Pawlitically incorrect as it might be, I do permit my dog to stick his head out the car window from time to time.
While there are those who say that’s putting him, and particularly his eyes and ears, at risk, I can’t bring myself to forbid him from sticking his nose out the window. To ban him from that activity would be the equivalent of taking someone to an art museum and blindfolding them.
So when traveling at reasonable speeds, and once in a while traveling at unreasonable speeds, I power down the back window halfway to let Ace sniff in the surroundings for a minute or two, usually at his urging — as in, “If I keep smushing my greasy nose into this closed window, he will open it a bit.”
I, unsafe and risky as it is, love to see the dog head protruding from the car window, almost as much as dogs seem to enjoy sticking their heads out the window.
To me, the dog head protruding from a car window, while maybe not as iconic as that torch Lady Liberty holds up, is a symbol of freedom and possibilities and soaking up all life has to offer. I have even tried it myself, but I got something in my eye and no longer take part in that behavior. Ace still gets to, though, within limits.
Admitting that will probably bring some criticism my way, just as I’d expect this new ad from Volkswagen might take some heat.
The ad features more than 15 dogs — all hooked up to seat restraints, it is said — but still managing to get their heads out the car window, in some cases well out the window.
(If you’re wondering why some dogs appear to be in the driver’s seat, that’s because the ad was filmed in the UK, for the British market.)
Twenty-two dogs were involved in the filming of the ad, and none of them were equipped with doggy goggles.
Thus those dogs, like my dog, were exposed to the danger of dirt, rocks, dust and debris that could harm their eyes; or ear damage that can result from them flapping too fiercely in the wind; or the possibility of falling out of the window.
The ad makers, judging from this behind-the-scenes “making of” video (below) seemed to exercise care and take precautions with the dogs.
But I’d be interested in hearing what you think. Will the ad be viewed as putting dogs in danger, or letting dogs be dogs? Is it joyous, or worrisome, and do you think it’s going to sell many Volkswagens? As for me, I was too busy looking at the dogs to notice the cars at all.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ad, advertising, animals, automobiles, breeds, car windows, cars, commercial, dog, dogs, dogs in advertising, hanging, head, marketing, nose, open, out, pets, sales, smelling, volkswagen, window, woof in advertising
Chicago’s oldest pet store has decided to stop selling dogs purchased from breeders.
Sonja Raymond, whose family has been operating Collar & Leash since 1956, says the shop will deal only in adoptable dogs from shelters and rescues, according to CBS in Chicago
Raymond said she’d been considering the switch for five years — after noticing animals coming into the store with genetic defects and incurable illnesses, despite the assurances she received from her suppliers that the pups didn’t come from puppy mills.
“You know I had gone on the word of my distributors that I get my dogs from — that ‘Oh yeah these people are reputable, I’ve known them for years,” she said. “Within the past year I have found out they lied.”
Also pushing Collar & Leash to make the switch was the The Puppy Mill Project, a Chicago-based non-profit organization created to raise awareness about cruelty in puppy mills.
“We’d been in touch with the Puppy Mill Project Founder, Cari Meyers, for a long time, and realize it’s time we take this jump with them to help make a statement to put an end to puppy mills,” Raymond said.
“We will no longer buy and sell cats and dogs from mills and are proud to align ourselves with The Puppy Mill Project,” she said.
“It’s my biggest hope that as they become humane, other Chicago pet stores selling dogs and cats will follow in their footsteps, said Puppy Mill Project founder Meyers.
The store will hold a grand re-opening weekend Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animals, breeders, chicago, collar & leash, dog, dogs, humane, oldest, pet, pet sales, pet stores, pets, puppies, puppy mill project, puppy mills, sales, sonja raymond, store
A friend sent me this photo, taken at the Barnes & Noble in Towson, which shows “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend” getting some pretty decent display (at least better than the bottom shelf of the astronomy section, as was the case at an area bookstore that shall remain nameless).
I can think of no other sign I would like my book to be under — except maybe “New York Times Bestseller.”
Alas, it’s not there yet, but it did rate the “Page 99 Test,” a website by Marshal Zeringue dedicated to the proposition that the quality of a book can be judged by turning to, and reading, its 99th page.
I lucked out in that page 99 of “DOG, INC.” contains a revelation — namely who it was that located Genelle Guzman, the last survivor found after 9/11, and held her hand until she could be freed from the mound of debris she was trapped under.
(Clue: It wasn’t the volunteer firefighters who took credit for rescuing her on CNN)
If you’re wondering what this has to do with cloning dogs, you can click the link to Marshal’s blog or, better yet, buy the book and allow your thoughts — and perhaps more — to be provoked.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, animals, author, barnes & noble, best in show, book, books, bookstores, cnn, display, dog books, dog cloning, dog cloning book, dog inc., dogs, firefighters, genelle guzman, genelle guzman-mcmillan, ground zero, john woestendiek, last, marshal zeringue, new york, page 99, pets, rescue, revelation, sales, sign, signs, survivor, thought provoking, towson, westminster, world trade center