Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have decided to cancel this Saturday’s premiere of “A Dog’s Purpose” after a disturbing video emerged on Wednesday, showing a German shepherd being forced into a raging current of water on the movie’s set while filming. Late Thursday, Universal released a statement stating the investigation “is still ongoing” and they have decided it is “in the best interest of “A Dog’s Purpose” to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket.
According to Variety, Universal Pictures is feeling the pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) after the humane advocacy organization called for a boycott of the movie in order to send the message that dogs and other animals are not merely “props” for movies and should be treated humanely. The two companies issued the following statement:
“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. We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday.
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 a film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals.”
In a previous statement, the companies have tried to reassure everyone that the German shepherd named Hercules had been rehearsed for the water scenes, but on that day he was in a panic. According to TMZ, who leaked footage of Hercules being forced into a pool that was meant to recreate rapids, the dog was forced in even though the video shows him desperately pawing at the bank in an effort to resist. When he is pounded by the waves and went under, the camera crew continued to shoot the film while crew rushed over to rescue the dog. A star in the film, Josh Gad, who voices for the main dog in the film tweeted in response to the controversy expressing how “shaken and sad” he was to see the disturbing video.
Read previous article here. (Photos for premiere of “A Dog’s Purpose” via Amblin Entertainment.)