A Dog's Purpose premiere cancelled after video of stunt dog 'in distress'

Universal halt red carpet event and press junket pending a review of footage that appears to show a German shepherd being forced into a pool of water on set

The world premiere of A Dog’s Purpose, Universal’s new canine adventure, has been cancelled following the emergence of a video that appears to show a stunt dog in distress on the film’s set.

According to TMZ, the leaked footage shows a German shepherd being forced into a pool that is meant to recreate rapids, and scrabbling at the bank in an effort to resist. Finally submerged, the dog is buffeted by the waves for a few seconds while the camera crew secures the shot.

On Wednesday evening, a joint statement was issued by producers Amblin Entertainment and distributors Universal Pictures. It said that, while they were reviewing the footage, “great care and concern” were shown to the dogs used in the movie. The stunt in question had been rehearsed to ease the dog’s comfort, but “on the day of the shoot, Hercules did not want to perform the stunt portrayed on the tape so the Amblin production team did not proceed with filming that shot”.

On Thursday, the companies chose to cancel further promotion of the film, which is scheduled for release in the US on 27 January.

“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,” a statement said.

Amblin maintained that Hercules was unharmed by the incident, saying: “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 was not harmed throughout the film-making.”

Peta has said it was “calling on dog lovers to boycott the film in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props”.


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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