‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere and Press Junket Canceled Amid Video Controversy

The fallout continues. Amblin Entertainment, the producer of A Dog’s Purpose, announced on Thursday, January 19, that it was canceling the premiere and press junket for the film amid controversy over a video that appeared to show a dog being abused during filming.

“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,” Amblin and Universal said in a statement to Us Weekly. “Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between animals and humans.”

A Dog's Purpose
Dennis Quaid in a scene from ‘A Dog’s Purpose.’ Joe Lederer/Universal

As Us Weekly previously reported, footage posted by TMZ on Wednesday, January 18, showed a handler trying to put a German shepherd named Hercules into a pool of rushing water, as the distressed pup repeatedly tries to jump out of the pool. “He wants to get away. Just throw him in,” a voice in the background says.

Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the film, and director Lasse Halstrom voiced their concerns about the dog’s treatment, as did animal rights organization PETA, which called for a boycott of the movie, which also stars Dennis Quaid, about a pooch who is reincarnated several times.

Amblin Entertainment previously said it was reviewing the video and in its statement on Thursday said, “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. 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 statement concluded.

The American Humane Association representative who was responsible for enforcing safety rules for animals on the set has been suspended following the release of the tape. The AHA told Us Weekly in a statement that it is “bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation” into the incident.

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