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‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Tops Movie Social Media Buzz Amid Controversy

Universal’s controversial “A Dog’s Purpose” clearly has social media users barking.

The movie topped social media buzz last week with a sizable 147,000 new conversations, according to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service.

The awareness has been boosted by some negative publicity. In the wake of Jan. 18 release of a leaked video from the set showing a German Shepherd balking at performing a stunt in churning water, animal activists groups like PETA have called for a boycott for the film. Producer Gavin Polone, director Lasse Hallstrom, co-screenwriter W. Bruce Cameron, and animal trainers from Birds and Animals Unlimited have said TMZ, which first released the video, and PETA mischaracterized what actually took place — insisting that the dog was reluctant to go into water only because he had not rehearsed at the specific location.

“A Dog’s Purpose” opens Friday. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, said the statistics are not a predictor of box office nor of positive vs. negative sentiment, but instead reflect the overall engagement of the social media conversation for a particular title.

“In this case, the TMZ reporting, which is viewed by a very social media savvy and engaged audience, had a ripple effect and from there definitely sparked a lot of conversations as the story broadened to other media outlets and even motivated direct responses from the filmmakers themselves,” he added.

Lionsgate’s “Power Rangers” generated 68,000 new conversations in the wake of a new full trailer on Jan. 19. The movie, which has already produced nearly 380,000 conversations, opens on March 24.

Universal’s “Fifty Shades Darker” produced nearly 57,000 new conversations. PreAct estimates that a total of 1.18 million new conversations have been generated for the sequel, which opens on Feb. 10.

The sequel depicts an escalating romance between the characters played by Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele) and Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey) with trailers showing plenty of steamy scenes and shadowy figures from Christian’s past.

Fox’s Wolverine spinoff “Logan” generated more than 45,000 new conversations last week as it released a full and international trailer on Jan. 19, preceded by a trailer announcement and image a day earlier.

The trailer showed Hugh Jackman as a world-weary Wolverine while he helps out a young female mutant on the run. The film opens March 4.

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