The film has come under fire after footage of potentially abusive treatment of a German Shepherd went viral earlier this week.
Based on the 2010 novel of the same name, A Dog's Purpose is meant to be a comedy-drama film that shows canines as noble, spiritually enlightened creatures. Instead, the movie's Jan. 21 premiere in L.A. has been cancelled due to an animal abuse scandal.
A couple of days ago, TMZ released a troubling recording that was taken while A Dog's Purpose was being filmed in Winnipeg, Canada in Nov. 2015. The footage shows a trainer forcibly pushing a German Shepherd into a large pool that is supposed to simulate a rushing river. The dog, whose name is Hercules, struggles throughout the clip and is clearly afraid of the fast-moving water. At the end of the video, the dog appears to be submerged, prompting multiple trainers to swim toward him and get him afloat.
Watch the disturbing clip below.
Animal rights organizations, namely PETA, have called for a boycott of the movie. Furthermore, the nonprofit wants A Dog's Purpose's director, Lasse Hallström, and its producer, Gavin Polone, to promise to never work with animals again and to rescue the dogs from Birds & Animals Unlimited, the company responsible for the animals used in the film.
Yesterday, Universal Pictures, the distributor of A Dog's Purpose, announced the cancellation of the premiere, which was supposed to be held tomorrow, due to a review of the controversial footage that has been taken on by Amblin Entertainment, the movie's production company.
"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," read the statement. “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 went on to suggest that, despite the footage, Hercules the German Shepherd was at no time harmed during the production of A Dog's Purpose: “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.”
A Dog's Life follows voice actor Josh Gad as he is reincarnated through multiple different dog breeds, each one having its own special story. Gad released a statement via Twitter about the abuse allegations, writing, "I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will."
I have been a lifelong animal lover and A DOG’S PURPOSE is my third film about dogs. The animals’ safety was of utmost priority.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished.— lasse hallstrom (@HallstromLasse) January 19, 2017
The movie also stars Britt Robertson and Dennis Quaid. Watch the trailer below.