On Wednesday, TMZ posted video that purported to show the abuse of a German Shepherd on the set of the upcoming heartwarming family film A Dog’s Purpose. The backlash against the movie and its animal handlers was quick and severe. PETA called for a boycott and the companies behind the film, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, initiated a review into the film’s procedures and vowed to get to the bottom of things based on the disturbing footage. Later that day, the AHS safety monitor for A Dog’s Purpose was put on administrative leave.
As the third party investigation into the incident continues, actors connected to the film have spoken out about the horrible images in the footage as well as many animal lovers and organizations. So now, after a day of controversy and concern for Hercules the German Shepherd, Universal has gone forward with canceling the premiere altogether. In a statement, they remain committed to releasing the film on the planned timetable but it’s hard to imagine this viral video won’t have some sort of effect on the movie’s box office prospects.
In the statement, Universal and Amblin assert that they “do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.”
That wish may be a little bit “closing the barn door after the horses are already out” but it can’t ever hurt to reiterate a commitment to animals. Especially in a situation like this. They also promise the health of Hercules despite the video evidence that might lead people to think otherwise.
“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.”
There is no word yet on any further details stemming from the investigation, but no matter the outcome this on-set issue is bound to overshadow the movie through its release next week.