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 dog being forced into a raging torrent of water on the film’s set.
Universal released a statement saying Amblin’s review into the edited video “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.”
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals subsequently called for a boycott of the movie in order to “send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props.” It would appear that Universal and Amblin are feeling the pressure as a result, with the latter launching an “in-depth review” to get to the bottom of the incident.
The two companies emphasized their hope that the incident would not overshadow the film’s celebration of the relationship between animals and humans.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”
The companies had previously released a statement insisting that the dog in the video, a German shepherd named Hercules, had been rehearsed for the water scenes but was suddenly afraid on the day of the shooting, so the production team did not proceed. One of the film’s stars, Josh Gad, who voices the main dog in the film, tweeted a response to the controversy and expressed how “shaken” and “sad” he was to see the distressing dog video.