LOS ANGELES – This weekend’s Los Angeles premiere of “A Dog’s Purpose” has been canceled after leaked video prompted an investigation into the treatment of animals during the movie’s filming, according to a statement obtained by the Hollywood Reporter Thursday.
“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.”
The wide release into theaters is still scheduled for the 27th of January. Amblin also wrote in the 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 proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday.”
The decision comes as animal lovers call for a boycott of the movie after TMZ published disturbing, leaked video the site says was taken on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose” in 2015. The footage shows stunt dog Hercules struggling to stay out of the swirling, frothy water as a trainer forces him in.
Sources told TMZ that eight outboard motors were used to create the churning water.
Another man, who doesn’t appear on camera, can be heard saying, “He ain’t gonna calm down until he goes in the water … you just gotta throw him in.”
The second scene shows the dog struggling to keep its head up as the swirling water carries it across the pool. The German shepherd finally slips under the surface after running into the wall of the pool, and someone off camera can be heard yelling, “Cut it,” as trainers rush over.
It’s unclear whether or not the final scene was scripted, but TMZ reports that director Lasse Hallström was on set at the time, and at least one crew member was “extremely disturbed” after seeing what happened to the German shepherd.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a tweet after news of the video broke that they want to “send the message that dogs & other animals should be treated humanely, not as props.”
“A Dog’s Purpose,” stars Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson and Josh Gad. K.J. Apa, who also stars in the movie, tweeted this Thursday: