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Universal cancels premiere of A Dog's Purpose in the wake of leaked video

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You may remember seeing a trailer for A DOG'S PURPOSE that followed (you guessed it) a dog looking to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners. The film is set to be released on January 27th and looks to offer up your usual family fare that comes out this time of year. Recently, a video was "leaked" to TMZ that showed a scene from the film being shot where the dog appears to be mistreated. Now, I'll sooner talk politics on here than post a TMZ video, so look it up if you like, but we'll break down what's in the video below.

The first clip shows the dog handler dipping the dog into the water, and then pulling the dog out because it's too scared. The second clip shows the dog actually in the water, being submerged at the end with the filmmakers calling "Cut!" and rushing to its aid. Universal has responded by saying that those were two different days of shooting, and that they didn't shoot after the initial clip because the dog was too scared. The second clip speaks for itself, as they wanted to make sure the dog was okay, and indeed, it was. So whether or not you feel this is poor treatment of animals or deceptive editing, I'll leave that up to you.

Suffice it to say that this has brought some major unwanted attention to Universal, who is now pulling the film from it's junket/premiere. They issued the following statement:

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 do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals.

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.

So what does this mean? Well, PETA's doing an investigation of their own and I'm willing to bet that the studio will offer up some kind of settlement. Perhaps even donate some of the film's profits to their cause. As far as the film's release, I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up making next to nothing during its box office run. While I don't think the dog was as mistreated as TMZ is making it out to be, I do feel that this would be an ideal example of when CG should be used. Universal will no doubt be conscious of that going forward.

A DOG'S PURPOSE opens in theaters on January 27, 2017.

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