A Dog's Purpose is challenging the meaning of the common and often reassuring "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" disclaimer. Just as soon as the film's trailer began to win the hearts of dog-lovers everywhere, news emerged about the reported mistreatment of Hercules, a German Shepherd featured in the film.
"You can see a trainer forcibly shoving a German Shepherd -- one of at least 5 dogs used in the production -- into the frothing water, but the animal wanted NO part of it...and repeatedly clawed at the pool's edge. The dog eventually got in the water -- or was forced in -- but was quickly submerged. It's unclear if the dog going under was scripted, but someone immediately yelled, "Cut it!" ... and handlers rushed to the animal."
Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures responded to TMZ, stating they would "look into the circumstances surrounding this video," and Uproxx reported that Universal and Amblin made the decision to cancel the premiere of the film, scheduled for this weekend. The statement, released on January 19, reads:
"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 statement also notes that Amblin has conducted an "in-depth review," and while they are "disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress," they were assured that "Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking."
While the premiere has been cancelled, the film is scheduled to be released nationwide for audiences next Friday, January 27. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called for a boycott of the film, stating "being terrified on set is not 'A Dog's Purpose.'"
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