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The last few days have not been easy for A Dog's Purpose, which has become the subject of intense controversy after a set video was leaked showing animal cruelty. The video showed a clearly stressed German Shepherd being forced to perform in artificial rapids, and animal rights groups like PETA have since called for a boycott of the film. The producers of the film and executives at Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have stated that the dog came to no harm, but they have still made the decision to cancel the premiere of the film altogether.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles premiere of A Dog's Purpose has been cancelled ahead of the film's national release on January 27. This comes right after the leaked video of Hercules the German Shepherd seemingly afraid to perform in a scene that involved swimming in artificial rapids and being thrown into the water. Due to the negative attention this has garnered the film, Universal and Amblin have opted to cancel the premiere so that the film is not overshadowed by the controversy. Here's their official statement on the matter:
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. Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals. Since the emergence of the footage, Amblin has engaged with many associated with the production of the film, including safety personnel, trainers and stunt coordinators as part of their in-depth review. While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking.
An official investigation into the video is still underway, but Amblin and Universal are ensuring that Hercules is alright and was never harmed. As the story currently goes, the companies promise that Hercules was not thrown into the water like it appears in the video, and that they did not shoot that scene while he was nervous. Reportedly, director Lasse Hallström called for a break and when they returned Hercules felt okay with continuing. While people questioned in the investigation have thus far said that the dog was treated humanely on set, the video is still troubling to watch.
PETA has thus far called for a boycott of the film and recently demanded that all films involving animals instead use CGI. That's neither realistic or cost effective, but perhaps for scenes involving such action, CGI may be the better option. Gavin Polone, a producer on the film and animal rights activist himself, has said that the real issue lies with the American Humane Association, the non-profit monitoring group in-charge of overseeing animal treatment on productions, which has its own history of scandal and ineffectiveness.
The investigation is still underway and CinemaBlend will be sure to keep you updated with new information as it becomes available. A Dog's Purpose will still hit theaters next week on January 27.