(FOX 11) - UPDATE: Variety is reporting that, '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 statement posted by Variety goes on to say, “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 dog is named "Hercules" and he's getting a lot of attention right now because of a video clip posted by TMZ that reportedly is from the second unit of the movie “A Dog’s Purpose”. We see the cameras. A pool designed to create the effect of a raging river and a German Shepherd that doesn’t want any part of it. That's "Hercules".
The story follows a dog named "Bailey" thru five decades of multiple owners. But, it’s that 35 or 40 seconds that’s got people upset. Says Nadia Taha with PETA, “The kind of thing that’s shown in that video, that dog being forced to do something it really doesn’t want to do… obviously dangerous… is pretty much routine for the business and the American Humane Association which has that rubber stamp that no animal has been harmed in the making of this film… really isn’t anything to keep those animals safe.”
Laura Nativo trains animals for the movies like 3-year-old Delilah Jane Sassafras whose has an upcoming film called “A Dog and Pony Show” opposite human actors Mira Sorvino and Ralph Machio. She says there are many forms of positive reinforcement that work well in training animals. That controversial scene could have been done better, she says, with more patient training or even the use of CGI in the part dealing with the raging water. She says it's a shame what happened. And, hopes this doesn't have a negative effect on future animal films.
In a series of tweets, the film’s director Lasse Hallstrom spoke out about the controversy. He said, "I have been a lifelong animal lover and “A Dog's Purpose" is my third film about dogs. The animal’s safety was of utmost priority.”
The American Humane Association is investigating and has suspended its worker on the film.
Meanwhile, PETA is encouraging moviegoers to boycott the film. Nativo is on the fence whether to do that or not.
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