Sony’s Zombie Hunter Scares Away Uni’s ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ – Thursday Night Box Office

Sony/Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: The Final Chapter soared in Thursday night previews, taking in $1 million and easily beating Universal/Amblin/Walden Media’s A Dog’s Purpose, which drew $455K last night. A Dog’s Purpose played at 2,255 venues from showtimes that started at 6 PM, while Resident Evil began its shows at 7 PM at 2,464 theaters.
Granted, a genre movie is always going to pull in more fanboys than a family film on its first night, especially at this time of year…

Sony/Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: The Final Chapter soared in Thursday night previews, taking in $1 million and easily beating Universal/Amblin/Walden Media’s A Dog’s Purpose, which drew $455K last night. A Dog’s Purpose played at 2,255 venues from showtimes that started at 6 PM, while Resident Evil began its shows at 7 PM at 2,464 theaters. Granted, a genre movie is always going to pull in more fanboys than a family film on its first night, especially at this time of year…

‘A Dog’s Purpose’: PETA to Protest the Film in Theaters Nationwide

The protests come after a video surfaced of a frightened-looking German Shepherd forced to perform a stunt.

Following the viral video of a terrified-looking German Shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose,” PETA members will protest the film across North America on Friday, the movie’s opening night.

“No amount of spin from Hollywood will change the fact that being forced to do a terrifying stunt is not a dog’s purpose,” said PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange in a statement. “PETA is calling on kind people to boycott this film and send the message that animals should be treated humanely, not exploited as movie props.”

Demonstrations will take place in Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Winnipeg, where the movie was shot. People will also be mobilizing in more than 25 other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Seattle.

READ MORE: ’A Dog’s Purpose’ Terrified Dog Video: Star Josh Gad and Director Lasse Hallström ‘Disturbed’ by Canine’s Treatment on Set

“A Dog’s Purpose” tells the story of a dog who gets reincarnated as multiple canines over the course of five decades and discovers the meaning of its own existence through the lives go his owners.

PETA had also previously released a video exposé of Hollywood animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, which provided the dogs used in the film, revealing that the animals used in “A Dog’s Purpose” were inadequately taken care of.

Director Lasse Hallström and Josh Gad, who voices the dog protagonist, spoke out about the video on social media, writing they were “very disturbed” by seeing the footage and that they ‘did not witness these actions’ while participating in the film. The controversy surrounding the film forced Universal to cancel the movie’s premiere and junkets.

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Why ‘Split’ May Take the Top Box Office Slot For The Second Week, And ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Is Left Panting

Other openers include “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” “Gold,” and Oscar nominee “The Salesman.”

This week, three new wide releases will take advantage of a projected lull in the schedule — “A Dog’s Purpose” (Universal), “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” (Sony) and “Gold” (Weinstein). They compete against the second weekend for “Split” (Universal), along with possible Oscar-nomination surges for “Hidden Figures” (20th Century Fox) and “La La Land” (Lionsgate). Of course, that lull is there for a reason: This late January weekend, just before the Super Bowl, is usually among the very worst of the year.

“Split”

The title to beat is “Split,” the M. Night Shyamalan hit produced by Jason Blum that became the first non-franchise, live-action release to open to over $40 million since the fall 2015. If it performs like most horror films, which tend to be frontloaded, it could fall only 50 percent for a $20 million total.

That might be enough to repeat at no. 1. It’s not unheard of for a genre title; over Labor Day weekend last year, “Don’t Breathe” managed that achievement with a lower initial gross and an impressive 40 percent drop. But still, it’s unusual.

Initially projected as a lower-budget sleeper success, Lasse Hallström’s “A Dog’s Purpose” now must contend with a video that shows possible animal abuse during filming. PETA has called for a boycott, and Universal canceled its premiere. But release plans remained unchanged, and the $25 million production will likely still end up as the highest-grossing of the debuting films.

Live-action dog stories have been less prominent of late since the major success of “Marley and Me” at Christmas 2008. Boosted by Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, it reached $143 million after a $34 million start. That made it second only to “Benji” among non-animated dog stories. “Max” in summer 2015 made only a minor splash with a $12 million start ($44 million total). “A Dog’s Purpose” has an advantage with less competition, particularly with no significant fresh product for families since “Sing” (the flop that was “Monster Trucks” notwithstanding). That gives it a path to open somewhere between “Marley” and “Max.”

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”

Screen Gems

“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” suggests but by no means guarantees that the “Resident Evil” franchise has reached the end of its road. Whatever the outcome, “Final Chapter,” like “xXx: Return of Xander” the weekend before, will likely find only a small portion of its worldwide take in domestic numbers.

Similar to Sony’s “Underworld” series (the fifth installment opened two weeks back), this video game adaptation should open at its lowest level ever. Four of the previous five opened over $20 million  (and the first as well in adjusted numbers). This one brings back director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich. With Japan already grossing $35 million alone, a domestic start of less than half of that will bring little concern at the studio. Where it might have the greatest impact is cutting into the “Split” audience.

Weinstein’s “Gold” was once positioned as an awards player; that turned into a below-the-radar, year-end, one-week Los Angeles run to justify its Golden Globe song nomination. Matthew McConaughey stars in the retelling of a Indonesian mining scandal, which will now open in over 2,000 theaters. This weekend’s respite in release traffic allows Weinstein to place this atop still-wide runs of Oscar-nominated “Lion” and “The Founder” for a second week. Even so, this might fall short of the Top 10, or barely make it with around $3 million-$4 million.

La La Land John Legend Ryan Gosling

“La La Land”

Summit Entertainment

The wild cards this weekend are the two longest-playing films, both of which received Best Picture nominations. Likely to climb in totals is the 14-times nominated “La La Land,” which will jump to over 3,000 theaters. It grossed $8.4 million last weekend and could see a climb to over $10 million, with a certain rise to over $100 million with multiple strong weeks still to come.

With its three nominations,”Hidden Figures” should keep close to its recent levels (last weekend, just under $16 million) and also reach $100 million. With two current hit Oscar films in the upper half of the Top 10 during the voting period, that makes this Oscar cycle an atypical one. It also bolsters the already -trong chances for “La La Land” and could yet make “Hidden Figures” a stronger contender than its nomination total suggests.

Other nominees will capitalize on their citations with expansion, though none are expected to come close to those two. Paramount is returning their eight-nomination “Allied” to over 1,000 theaters, while “Moonlight” (A24) and “Manchester By the Sea” (Roadside Attractions) should also see significant boosts.

"The Salesman"

“The Salesman”

“The Salesman” (Cohen), like “Manchester,” is an Amazon Studio film and an Oscar nominee. It’s set for its initial limited dates this weekend, a winning gamble. The Iranian film, from previous winner Asghar Faradi, debuts in New York and Los Angeles.

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Is ‘Clumsily Manipulative Dreck’ and 6 Other Gnawing Reviews

Turns out, a leaked set video in which a dog seems to be forced into roaring water isn’t the only thing that is tainting people’s perception of “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Critics aren’t being easy on the film starring Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad. One day ahead of its opening, the film has a score of 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling it “forgettable,” “inauthentic” and “manipulative dreck.”

TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde described the film as “a Nicholas Sparks movie crossed with a Blue Buffalo dog food commercial,” while Slant Magazine’s Keith Watson said the movie “has the gooey, inauthentic feel of a Hallmark Channel movie.”

Also Read: Will ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Boycott Take Bite Out of Box Office Debut?

“A Dog’s Purpose” was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose credits include “The Hundred-Foot Journey” and “Dear John,” and who is attached to direct next year’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

Last week, TMZ leaked a video from the set of “A Dog’s Purpose,” in which it looks like a German Shepherd was being forced into a pool of rough water. A later section of the video shows the dog going under for about four seconds. The video sparked outrage all over the nation, with many, including PETA, calling for the boycott of the film.

Universal canceled the premiere and the film’s press junket, though the studio, production company Amblin Entertainment, and the film’s producers have refuted claims that the dog was abused or injured during the making of the film.

See 7 of the worst reviews below.

Katie Rife, AV Club:

“All of Bailey’s lives are shot with gradually decreasing brightness, until Bailey ends up chained to a post outside a run-down house owned by a couple that in an edgier film would have probably been meth addicts. That sequence is shot in a muted gray, but then Bailey escapes and follows his instincts back to the farm where he lived out his second, best life, now owned by an adult Ethan (Dennis Quaid). Newly bathed in sunlight, the film once again amps up the sentimentality, culminating in a groan-worthy title line. So what is a dog’s purpose? To provide gentle, forgettable entertainment for moviegoers who lament that ‘they’ don’t make ‘nice’ movies anymore, apparently. For the rest of us, it’s more like a 100-minute nap.

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Review: Canine Tear-Jerker Fails the Sniff Test

Jude Dry, IndieWire:

“What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this? We may never know, but knowing this movie exists may bring some viewers one step closer to giving up on the whole damn thing.”

Keith Watson, Slant Magazine:

“Directed by Lasse Hallström, ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ has the gooey, inauthentic feel of a Hallmark Channel movie. The script, a product of no less than five screenwriters, knows how to manipulate an audience’s emotions but does so mechanically, making only the barest attempts to ground its schmaltzy melodrama in anything resembling genuine emotion. The film is at its best when it drops its narrative pretenses and simply indulges in puppy porn, as in a completely gratuitous scene of Bailey playing with a small donkey. But more often than not, the film operates in bathetic overdrive, exploiting the genuine affection people feel for their pets for cheap emotionalism.”

Aubrey Page, Collider:

“Ultimately, the film’s quality makes my quandary of whether or not I should endorse the film moot – I don’t think I would recommend ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ regardless of any behind the scenes issues. It’s certainly not the worst film you’ll see this year, but it’s one I’m willing to bet you won’t remember by the end of it.”

Billy Goodykoontz, USA Today:

“Controversy over the treatment of one of the animals during filming of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ has led to some calls for a boycott of the film. Don’t let that sway you. There are plenty of other reasons not to see it. Lasse Hallström’s film, based on the bestseller by W. Bruce Cameron, tells the story of a dog who, for reasons never questioned, is reincarnated time and again as he tries to figure out his purpose. It’s often cloying, absurdly melodramatic, and the premise exists largely as a tear-manufacturing device.”

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Star Dennis Quaid Calls BS on Abuse Claims

Neil Genzlinger, New York Times:

“You don’t need an animal-rights group’s boycott to give you permission to avoid ‘A Dog’s Purpose.’ You can skip it just because it’s clumsily manipulative dreck.”

Chris Packham, Village Voice:

“The main character, Dog, dies in multiple wrenching scenes and is subsequently reborn; during his many lives, his thoughts are voiced by Josh Gad, and he engages in a lot of internal doggy eschatology, wondering about the meaning of life and what he’s meant to do. Well, a dog’s purpose, it turns out, is to be reincarnated into a different sappy mini-Hallmark movie after every death.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Supplier Calls TMZ Video ‘Falsely Edited’

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Says ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ in Making of Film

Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

Turns out, a leaked set video in which a dog seems to be forced into roaring water isn’t the only thing that is tainting people’s perception of “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Critics aren’t being easy on the film starring Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad. One day ahead of its opening, the film has a score of 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling it “forgettable,” “inauthentic” and “manipulative dreck.”

TheWrap’s film critic Alonso Duralde described the film as “a Nicholas Sparks movie crossed with a Blue Buffalo dog food commercial,” while Slant Magazine’s Keith Watson said the movie “has the gooey, inauthentic feel of a Hallmark Channel movie.”

“A Dog’s Purpose” was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, whose credits include “The Hundred-Foot Journey” and “Dear John,” and who is attached to direct next year’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

Last week, TMZ leaked a video from the set of “A Dog’s Purpose,” in which it looks like a German Shepherd was being forced into a pool of rough water. A later section of the video shows the dog going under for about four seconds. The video sparked outrage all over the nation, with many, including PETA, calling for the boycott of the film.

Universal canceled the premiere and the film’s press junket, though the studio, production company Amblin Entertainment, and the film’s producers have refuted claims that the dog was abused or injured during the making of the film.

See 7 of the worst reviews below.

Katie Rife, AV Club:

“All of Bailey’s lives are shot with gradually decreasing brightness, until Bailey ends up chained to a post outside a run-down house owned by a couple that in an edgier film would have probably been meth addicts. That sequence is shot in a muted gray, but then Bailey escapes and follows his instincts back to the farm where he lived out his second, best life, now owned by an adult Ethan (Dennis Quaid). Newly bathed in sunlight, the film once again amps up the sentimentality, culminating in a groan-worthy title line. So what is a dog’s purpose? To provide gentle, forgettable entertainment for moviegoers who lament that ‘they’ don’t make ‘nice’ movies anymore, apparently. For the rest of us, it’s more like a 100-minute nap.

Jude Dry, IndieWire:

“What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this? We may never know, but knowing this movie exists may bring some viewers one step closer to giving up on the whole damn thing.”

Keith Watson, Slant Magazine:

“Directed by Lasse Hallström, ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ has the gooey, inauthentic feel of a Hallmark Channel movie. The script, a product of no less than five screenwriters, knows how to manipulate an audience’s emotions but does so mechanically, making only the barest attempts to ground its schmaltzy melodrama in anything resembling genuine emotion. The film is at its best when it drops its narrative pretenses and simply indulges in puppy porn, as in a completely gratuitous scene of Bailey playing with a small donkey. But more often than not, the film operates in bathetic overdrive, exploiting the genuine affection people feel for their pets for cheap emotionalism.”

Aubrey Page, Collider:

“Ultimately, the film’s quality makes my quandary of whether or not I should endorse the film moot – I don’t think I would recommend ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ regardless of any behind the scenes issues. It’s certainly not the worst film you’ll see this year, but it’s one I’m willing to bet you won’t remember by the end of it.”

Billy Goodykoontz, USA Today:

“Controversy over the treatment of one of the animals during filming of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ has led to some calls for a boycott of the film. Don’t let that sway you. There are plenty of other reasons not to see it. Lasse Hallström’s film, based on the bestseller by W. Bruce Cameron, tells the story of a dog who, for reasons never questioned, is reincarnated time and again as he tries to figure out his purpose. It’s often cloying, absurdly melodramatic, and the premise exists largely as a tear-manufacturing device.”

Neil Genzlinger, New York Times:

“You don’t need an animal-rights group’s boycott to give you permission to avoid ‘A Dog’s Purpose.’ You can skip it just because it’s clumsily manipulative dreck.”

Chris Packham, Village Voice:

“The main character, Dog, dies in multiple wrenching scenes and is subsequently reborn; during his many lives, his thoughts are voiced by Josh Gad, and he engages in a lot of internal doggy eschatology, wondering about the meaning of life and what he’s meant to do. Well, a dog’s purpose, it turns out, is to be reincarnated into a different sappy mini-Hallmark movie after every death.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Dog's Purpose' Supplier Calls TMZ Video 'Falsely Edited'

'A Dog's Purpose' Writer Says 'No Animals Were Harmed' in Making of Film

Universal, Amblin Cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere Following PETA Boycott

PETA To Protest ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ At Theaters Across The Nation

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said supporters across the nation will will engage “in lively protests” in front of theaters on opening night (Friday) against the Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures movie A Dog’s Purpose due to a  behind-the-scenes video of a terrified dog who was forced into churning water on the set of the film during its Winnepeg shoot in October.

Demonstrations will take place in Los Angeles, New York City; Washington, D.C.…

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said supporters across the nation will will engage “in lively protests” in front of theaters on opening night (Friday) against the Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures movie A Dog’s Purpose due to a  behind-the-scenes video of a terrified dog who was forced into churning water on the set of the film during its Winnepeg shoot in October. Demonstrations will take place in Los Angeles, New York City; Washington, D.C.…

Can M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’ Scare ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Away From No. 1?; ‘La La Land’ Dancing To $100M – Box Office Preview

Despite forecasts this week projecting Amblin/Walden Media/Universal’s A Dog’s Purpose as the clear No. 1 winner at the domestic box office with an opening north of $20 million, tracking this morning indicates that Uni/Blumhouse’s Split has a good shot at holding on to its top spot after debuting to $40M last weekend.
The $9M psychological thriller from filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has had a terrific week, on course for a $50M running total today. Genre titles are…

Despite forecasts this week projecting Amblin/Walden Media/Universal’s A Dog’s Purpose as the clear No. 1 winner at the domestic box office with an opening north of $20 million, tracking this morning indicates that Uni/Blumhouse’s Split has a good shot at holding on to its top spot after debuting to $40M last weekend. The $9M psychological thriller from filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has had a terrific week, on course for a $50M running total today. Genre titles are…

American Humane Weighs in on ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ (Guest Column)

American Humane was responsible for monitoring the animals used on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose.” Below, CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert responds to the controversy. The film “A Dog’s Purpose,” based on W. Bruce Cameron’s bestselling novel of the same name, follows the spiritual journey of a devoted dog who explores the meaning of life… Read more »

American Humane was responsible for monitoring the animals used on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose.” Below, CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert responds to the controversy. The film “A Dog’s Purpose,” based on W. Bruce Cameron’s bestselling novel of the same name, follows the spiritual journey of a devoted dog who explores the meaning of life... Read more »

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Tops Movie Social Media Buzz Amid Controversy

Universal’s controversial “A Dog’s Purpose” clearly has social media users barking. The movie topped social media buzz last week with a sizable 147,000 new conversations, according to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service. The awareness has been boosted by some negative publicity. In the wake of Jan. 18 release of a leaked video from the set… Read more »

Universal’s controversial “A Dog’s Purpose” clearly has social media users barking. The movie topped social media buzz last week with a sizable 147,000 new conversations, according to media-measurement firm comScore and its PreAct service. The awareness has been boosted by some negative publicity. In the wake of Jan. 18 release of a leaked video from the set... Read more »

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Review: Even Lasse Hallström Can’t Save This Canine ‘Cloud Atlas’

No amount of floppy ears could save this flop.

Josh Gad’s opening voiceover in “A Dog’s Purpose” asks: “What is the meaning of life?”

You might think: I don’t know, but I don’t think a movie about dog reincarnation is going to tell me.

He goes on: “Are we here for a reason?” Puppies? “Is there a point to any of this?” Probably not, but hopefully puppies.

Turns out, the answer to that last question is a resounding no. It’s not hard to guess why any studio would want to make a movie based on W. Bruce Cameron’s bestselling novel, one that’s ostensibly designed to appeal to the millions of people who turn cute dog videos viral. However, “A Dog’s Purpose” is a lot harder to understand when you consider that it’s a kids’ movie featuring multiple dog characters suffering and dying — and when you consider that it’s directed by Lasse Hallström, who also gave us “My Life As A Dog,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” and “Chocolat.”

This is the setup: Our narrator, as voiced by Gad, is a dog whose soul is reborn in different dog bodies several times. In the very first scene, we’re introduced to a charming mutt before he is promptly trapped by the kind of net normally reserved for cartoons. “That was it?” says Gad, as the screen fades to a swirl of colors meant to represent the afterlife.

READ MORE: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Terrified Dog Video: Star Josh Gad and Director Lasse Hallström ‘Disturbed’ by Canine’s Treatment on Set

Faster than you can say “PETA boycott,” he’s back in another puppy body, this time as a golden retriever. Determined to permanently scar the children who see this movie, the puppy then nearly dies of dehydration in an overheated pickup truck, neck hanging off the seat and tongue lolling out of his mouth, before a heroic mother/son duo smash in the window to take him home and nurse him back to health. Yes, we know: No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. But playacted suffering is no fun to watch.

From there, the movie’s major narrative emerges. It boils down to this: a boy loves his dog. Little Ethan (Bryce Gheispar) names the puppy Bailey and trains him to do all sorts of crazy things, like springboard off of Ethan’s back and catch a deflated football like the Gabby Douglas of dog Olympics. Ethan’s dad (Luke Kirby) is a traveling salesman who drinks too much, and his mom (Juliet Rylance) likes to garden.

Little Ethan turns into teenage Ethan (K.J. Apa, soon to become hot Archie Andrews of the CW’s “Riverdale”), and the lonely boy is now a full-fledged football star complete with adoring girlfriend, Hannah (Britt Robertson). As Bailey frolics around town with them, he makes funny dog observations about how much they like to lick each other and look for things they lost inside each other’s mouths.

After middle Ethan heads off to college, Bailey gets so tired he loses the will to live. This time Bailey comes back as, oh my god, a girl. After a joke that essentially amounts to “Where’d my thing go?,” Ellie the German Shepherd lives a pretty miserable existence as a police dog, overworked and underpaid. In a scene that was apparently important enough to endanger a dog actor’s life, Ellie saves a hostage from drowning before dying from a gunshot incurred while saving her owner.

READ MORE: ‘xXx: The Return of Xander Cage’ Review: Vin Diesel’s Action Reboot Bulks up on Cheap Thrills and Lean Plot

Returning as the Corgi companion to a reclusive student, our immortal narrator falls in love with another dog who happens to belong to the friendly guy always flirting with his owner. As their family grows, so does the Corgi, and we see his face fur grow grey in what is almost certainly cinema’s first time-lapse of an aging dog.

In the final chapter, Bailey is reborn as a mutt named Buddy, who begins his life chained up outside a dilapidated split-level by owners (read: offensive stereotypes), sending a disturbing message that poor people abuse animals. Buddy escapes, and his nose leads him to a familiar farm where he finds — can you guess? — old Ethan, played by Dennis Quaid, looking like the poor man’s Dennis Quaid, which he may be to have agreed to do this movie.

What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this? We may never know, but knowing this movie exists may bring some viewers one step closer to giving up on the whole damn thing.

Grade: F

“A Dog’s Purpose” opens in theaters January 27.

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Film Review: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’

“A Dog’s Purpose” is the type of movie that lives or dies entirely on its audience’s goodwill. With it, the Lasse Hallström film could serve as a cinematic warm blanket in this moment of national fractiousness and fear: full of adorable pooches, gentle breezes of Hallmark card philosophy, and nonpartisan rah-rah Americana. Without it, it… Read more »

“A Dog’s Purpose” is the type of movie that lives or dies entirely on its audience’s goodwill. With it, the Lasse Hallström film could serve as a cinematic warm blanket in this moment of national fractiousness and fear: full of adorable pooches, gentle breezes of Hallmark card philosophy, and nonpartisan rah-rah Americana. Without it, it... Read more »

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Review: Canine Tear-Jerker Fails the Sniff Test

A Nicholas Sparks movie crossed with a Blue Buffalo dog food commercial, “A Dog’s Purpose” was perhaps best described by Griffin McElroy on the “My Brother, My Brother and Me” podcast, based solely on the trailer: “What’s everybody’s favorite part of ‘Marley and Me’? The end of it. So what if we just made a movie that was the end of ‘Marley and Me,’ over and over, forever?”

Did I shed some tears over the doggy demises in this movie? Admittedly, yes. Does that reaction make the movie any less shameless for relying upon death to create poignancy? It does not.

It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the titular purpose is revealed to be the love of human beings, and our four-legged hero (voiced by Josh Gad in wall-to-wall narration) keeps coming back to life as different breeds, mainly but not entirely to take care of Ethan. In the 1960s Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) and his mom (Juliet Rylance, “The Knick”) rescue a retriever from the hot cab of a pickup truck, take him home, and dub him Bailey. (Because of the affectionate way the boy addresses him, the dog thinks his name is “Bailey-Bailey-Bailey-Bailey.”

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Supplier Calls TMZ Video ‘Falsely Edited’

Ethan could use a friend — his dad (Luke Kirby, “Rectify”) is obsessed with work disappointments and starts drinking more and more heavily. By the time Ethan is a high-school football star (now played by K.J. Apa, the Archie Andrews of the new “Riverdale”), dad’s a full-blown alcoholic, but Ethan and Bailey remain close, even as Ethan falls for Hannah (Britt Robertson). They’ve got big plans to go off to college together, but tragedy and self pity tear them apart, and Bailey is left to grow old and alone on the family farm. And then he dies.

He comes back as a female German Shepherd police dog in 1970s Chicago, providing loyal service to officer Carlos (John Ortiz, “Silver Linings Playbook”). And then she dies. Then he’s a Corgi who helps his lonely lady Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) find love with her college classmate Al (the appropriately-named Pooch Hall). Maya and Al get married and have a family. Then the dog dies.

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Star Dennis Quaid Calls BS on Abuse Claims

An older Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Hannah (Peggy Lipton), photogenic as ever, come back into the picture in the last dog-life that we see, in which our hero’s soul returns as a hound that’s ignored and abandoned by its down-and-out owners. (The movie has a classist streak a mile wide: people with nice houses and apartments are good to their dogs, while poor people — who apparently get all the bad weather — leave their pets chained in the yard.)

Adapting the book by W. Bruce Cameron, screenwriter Cathryn Michon makes the onscreen spoken dialogue far less prominent than the talking, talking, talking that Gad does on the soundtrack. And while Josh Gad can be charming and funny as part of an ensemble, a little of his winsome, I’m-a-cute-widdle-doggie narration here goes a very long way.

Also Read: Hollywood Animal Trainer on What ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Did Wrong

The human actors who appear on camera know they’re playing second fiddle to a bevy of engaging animals, and they do their best to make an impression with what they’ve got. The Robertson-Apa and Lipton-Quaid pairings offer maximum adorability as performed (and minimal depth as written), and Ortiz packs a lot of sad subtext into just a few scenes. (Logan Miller, so memorable in “Take Me to the River” and “Stanford Prison Experiment,” gives off a vibe of creepiness that seems better suited to a darker movie, but that’s more on director Lasse Hallstrom for not guiding the actor into this film’s Hallmark-y mode.)

“A Dog’s Purpose” offers many of the highlights of human-canine relations at their warmest and most affectionate, but the film chooses to skim on sun-dappled surfaces (Terry Stacey of “Elvis and Nixon” was the cinematographer) and sentimentality (Rachel Portman’s score bombards the heartstrings) when it might have gone deeper. Not that every animal movie has to go as dark as “Wiener-Dog” or as existential as “Au Hasard Balthazar,” but this much saccharine isn’t healthy for animals or humans.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Says ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ in Making of Film

Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Producers Say German Shepherd Was Not Forced to Complete Scene (Report)

Puppy Bowl 2017: Meet the Adorable Starting Lineup (Photos)

A Nicholas Sparks movie crossed with a Blue Buffalo dog food commercial, “A Dog’s Purpose” was perhaps best described by Griffin McElroy on the “My Brother, My Brother and Me” podcast, based solely on the trailer: “What’s everybody’s favorite part of ‘Marley and Me’? The end of it. So what if we just made a movie that was the end of ‘Marley and Me,’ over and over, forever?”

Did I shed some tears over the doggy demises in this movie? Admittedly, yes. Does that reaction make the movie any less shameless for relying upon death to create poignancy? It does not.

It’s not a spoiler to reveal that the titular purpose is revealed to be the love of human beings, and our four-legged hero (voiced by Josh Gad in wall-to-wall narration) keeps coming back to life as different breeds, mainly but not entirely to take care of Ethan. In the 1960s Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) and his mom (Juliet Rylance, “The Knick”) rescue a retriever from the hot cab of a pickup truck, take him home, and dub him Bailey. (Because of the affectionate way the boy addresses him, the dog thinks his name is “Bailey-Bailey-Bailey-Bailey.”

Ethan could use a friend — his dad (Luke Kirby, “Rectify”) is obsessed with work disappointments and starts drinking more and more heavily. By the time Ethan is a high-school football star (now played by K.J. Apa, the Archie Andrews of the new “Riverdale”), dad’s a full-blown alcoholic, but Ethan and Bailey remain close, even as Ethan falls for Hannah (Britt Robertson). They’ve got big plans to go off to college together, but tragedy and self pity tear them apart, and Bailey is left to grow old and alone on the family farm. And then he dies.

He comes back as a female German Shepherd police dog in 1970s Chicago, providing loyal service to officer Carlos (John Ortiz, “Silver Linings Playbook”). And then she dies. Then he’s a Corgi who helps his lonely lady Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) find love with her college classmate Al (the appropriately-named Pooch Hall). Maya and Al get married and have a family. Then the dog dies.

An older Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Hannah (Peggy Lipton), photogenic as ever, come back into the picture in the last dog-life that we see, in which our hero’s soul returns as a hound that’s ignored and abandoned by its down-and-out owners. (The movie has a classist streak a mile wide: people with nice houses and apartments are good to their dogs, while poor people — who apparently get all the bad weather — leave their pets chained in the yard.)

Adapting the book by W. Bruce Cameron, screenwriter Cathryn Michon makes the onscreen spoken dialogue far less prominent than the talking, talking, talking that Gad does on the soundtrack. And while Josh Gad can be charming and funny as part of an ensemble, a little of his winsome, I’m-a-cute-widdle-doggie narration here goes a very long way.

The human actors who appear on camera know they’re playing second fiddle to a bevy of engaging animals, and they do their best to make an impression with what they’ve got. The Robertson-Apa and Lipton-Quaid pairings offer maximum adorability as performed (and minimal depth as written), and Ortiz packs a lot of sad subtext into just a few scenes. (Logan Miller, so memorable in “Take Me to the River” and “Stanford Prison Experiment,” gives off a vibe of creepiness that seems better suited to a darker movie, but that’s more on director Lasse Hallstrom for not guiding the actor into this film’s Hallmark-y mode.)

“A Dog’s Purpose” offers many of the highlights of human-canine relations at their warmest and most affectionate, but the film chooses to skim on sun-dappled surfaces (Terry Stacey of “Elvis and Nixon” was the cinematographer) and sentimentality (Rachel Portman’s score bombards the heartstrings) when it might have gone deeper. Not that every animal movie has to go as dark as “Wiener-Dog” or as existential as “Au Hasard Balthazar,” but this much saccharine isn’t healthy for animals or humans.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Dog's Purpose' Writer Says 'No Animals Were Harmed' in Making of Film

Universal, Amblin Cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere Following PETA Boycott

'A Dog's Purpose' Producers Say German Shepherd Was Not Forced to Complete Scene (Report)

Puppy Bowl 2017: Meet the Adorable Starting Lineup (Photos)

Box Office: Can ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Still Win the Weekend After Canine Controversy?

Universal-Amblin’s “A Dog’s Purpose” faces serious challenges this weekend in the face of a week-old call for a boycott of the canine feel-good film, which opens at about 3,050 North American locations. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has blistered everyone involved with the movie in the wake of the Jan. 18 release… Read more »

Universal-Amblin’s “A Dog’s Purpose” faces serious challenges this weekend in the face of a week-old call for a boycott of the canine feel-good film, which opens at about 3,050 North American locations. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has blistered everyone involved with the movie in the wake of the Jan. 18 release... Read more »

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Star Dennis Quaid Calls BS on Abuse Claims

People who think that a dog was abused on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose” are barking up the wrong tree. At least, that’s the way that Dennis Quaid, one of the film’s stars, sees it.

“I was there. I never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked,” Quaid told Entertainment Tonight, adding that a video published by TMZ, which sparked the abuse allegations, “does not tell the whole story.”

Quaid went on to call the video a “scam.”

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Supplier Calls TMZ Video ‘Falsely Edited’

“My experience is that the animals were treated great. There was no animal abuse,” Quaid said. “That video that someone took and sold for money and held on to for a year and a half until right before the film’s coming out, does not tell the whole story. First of all, it’s been edited and manipulated. And I think it’s a scam, to tell you the truth.”

Opening in theaters this weekend, the film has been under a shadow since TMZ published video of a German Shepherd named Hercules seemingly frightened in a pool that’s been fitted with motors to simulate a whitewater river. In the video, Hercules is seen clawing at the side of the pool until a voice yells “cut” and Hercules is pulled out of the water.

But Quaid took issue with the perception that Hercules was afraid.

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Says ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ in Making of Film

“That was towards the end of the day and I would not say, in real context, that the dog was frightened,” Quaid told ET. “The dog was acting like a dog who was kind of tired of taking a bath and was ready to get out. And, in fact, that’s what happened. They took the dog out.”

Since the publication of the video, PETA has lashed out at the film, and a premiere for the film was canceled last week.

Animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, which provided the animals for “A Dog’s Purpose,” also too issue with the TMZ video, calling it “falsely edited.”

Also Read: Hollywood Animal Trainer on What ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Did Wrong

“Last week a falsely edited video was released to the media. It portrayed a dog being forced to enter a pool against its will and suggested that the dog was traumatized as a result,” the company said in a statement. “No such thing occurred, nor would it ever occur under the supervision of our animal trainers.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Supplier Calls TMZ Video ‘Falsely Edited’

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Says ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ in Making of Film

Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

People who think that a dog was abused on the set of “A Dog’s Purpose” are barking up the wrong tree. At least, that’s the way that Dennis Quaid, one of the film’s stars, sees it.

“I was there. I never saw any abuse of any animal. If there had been, I would have walked,” Quaid told Entertainment Tonight, adding that a video published by TMZ, which sparked the abuse allegations, “does not tell the whole story.”

Quaid went on to call the video a “scam.”

“My experience is that the animals were treated great. There was no animal abuse,” Quaid said. “That video that someone took and sold for money and held on to for a year and a half until right before the film’s coming out, does not tell the whole story. First of all, it’s been edited and manipulated. And I think it’s a scam, to tell you the truth.”

Opening in theaters this weekend, the film has been under a shadow since TMZ published video of a German Shepherd named Hercules seemingly frightened in a pool that’s been fitted with motors to simulate a whitewater river. In the video, Hercules is seen clawing at the side of the pool until a voice yells “cut” and Hercules is pulled out of the water.

But Quaid took issue with the perception that Hercules was afraid.

“That was towards the end of the day and I would not say, in real context, that the dog was frightened,” Quaid told ET. “The dog was acting like a dog who was kind of tired of taking a bath and was ready to get out. And, in fact, that’s what happened. They took the dog out.”

Since the publication of the video, PETA has lashed out at the film, and a premiere for the film was canceled last week.

Animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, which provided the animals for “A Dog’s Purpose,” also too issue with the TMZ video, calling it “falsely edited.”

“Last week a falsely edited video was released to the media. It portrayed a dog being forced to enter a pool against its will and suggested that the dog was traumatized as a result,” the company said in a statement. “No such thing occurred, nor would it ever occur under the supervision of our animal trainers.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Dog's Purpose' Supplier Calls TMZ Video 'Falsely Edited'

'A Dog's Purpose' Writer Says 'No Animals Were Harmed' in Making of Film

Universal, Amblin Cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere Following PETA Boycott

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Supplier Calls TMZ Video ‘Falsely Edited’

Birds & Animals Unlimited, the Hollywood animal supplier that provided the dogs for the movie “A Dog’s Purpose,” has released a statement after a video leaked to TMZ last week showed a German Shepherd being pushed into turbulent water while trying to hold on to the edge of the pool.

The video has triggered a backlash from animal rights activists and social media, as PETA has called for a boycott of the film.

In response to the backlash, film distributors Universal and Amblin have cancelled the film’s premiere event as well as all press junkets. W. Bruce Cameron, who wrote the book the film is adapted from and also co-wrote the screenplay, insisted that the video “mischaracterizes what happened.”

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Says ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ in Making of Film

Cameron said that the dog in the video had been playing in the pool earlier and was uncomfortable with jumping in the water from the location the trainer had positioned him in. This description of events matches the one given to TheWrap by BAU on Monday, in which the animal supplier said the video was “falsely edited” and insisted that the dog “shook the water off and wagged his tail,” directly after filming the scene.

Here is BAU’s statement in full:

Last week a falsely edited video was released to the media. It portrayed a dog being forced to enter a pool against its will and suggested that the dog was traumatized as a result. No such thing occurred, nor would it ever occur under the supervision of our animal trainers.

In one sequence, the videotape shows our animal actor Hercules appearing resistant to being placed in the pool. A voice can be heard saying “Just gotta throw him in.” Next, Hercules can be seen in the water, the false implications being that Hercules was actually placed in the water against his will and that the voice that can be heard belongs to someone supervising Hercules.

Here is what actually occurred:

Hercules, a two-year old German Shepherd, had been in training for  months to perform the swimming scenes for this film. He was chosen for the film based on his love of the water. The shot that Hercules performed began with his jumping from the end of the pool into the water as he’d been conditioned to do, then swimming out to a stunt actor and pulling her to safety.

After many successful takes throughout the day, a request was made to have Hercules perform the same behavior, but changing the point from which he was to enter the pool. As the camera started rolling, the trainer in the water began to call the dog. It quickly became apparent that Hercules did not want to enter the pool from this location.

After less that one minute of Hercules insisting on getting back to his original starting point, this plan was abandoned and he was brought to the end of the pool from which he’d been conditioned to enter, and he did so happily.

We cannot identify the voice that appears on the videotape saying “Just gotta throw him in,” but there were many people on the film set and it was not anyone with any authority over Hercules’ welfare as some of the news coverage implied.

In the next shot, Hercules entered the pool from his rehearsed location. While swimming across the pool, the current carried him closer to the wall at end of the pool than it had in previous takes. When the dog reached the wall, he was briefly submerged at which point the diver an trainer immediately pushed him to the surface. Trainers poolside then pulled him out of the water. Hercules shook the water off and wagged his tail.

During the filming, an American Humane Representative was present at all times, approving and documenting every shot. Whenever Hercules was in the water there were two trainers poolside, one trainer in the water, a safety diver, as well as stunt personnel.

The day before the scene was filmed, Hercules and his trainers did a comprehensive rehearsal at the pool location with safety and stunt teams to make certain that safety measures were in place to insure that the dog was not put in any danger.

These safety measures that were put in place worked flawlessly to ensure that no harm came to the dog (or the people) who were in the water during filming that day.

Birds and Animals Unlimited is currently reviewing available footage of these scenes and is evaluating its legal options. In the meantime, we strongly encourage the news media that receive such disturbing, defamatory and maliciously edited videotapes to exercise caution in their broadcast and characterization.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

Hollywood Animal Trainer on What ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Did Wrong

‘A Dog’s Purpose’: Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Bitten by IMDb Users: 94 Percent Give Movie 1 Out of 10

Birds & Animals Unlimited, the Hollywood animal supplier that provided the dogs for the movie “A Dog’s Purpose,” has released a statement after a video leaked to TMZ last week showed a German Shepherd being pushed into turbulent water while trying to hold on to the edge of the pool.

The video has triggered a backlash from animal rights activists and social media, as PETA has called for a boycott of the film.

In response to the backlash, film distributors Universal and Amblin have cancelled the film’s premiere event as well as all press junkets. W. Bruce Cameron, who wrote the book the film is adapted from and also co-wrote the screenplay, insisted that the video “mischaracterizes what happened.”

Cameron said that the dog in the video had been playing in the pool earlier and was uncomfortable with jumping in the water from the location the trainer had positioned him in. This description of events matches the one given to TheWrap by BAU on Monday, in which the animal supplier said the video was “falsely edited” and insisted that the dog “shook the water off and wagged his tail,” directly after filming the scene.

Here is BAU’s statement in full:

Last week a falsely edited video was released to the media. It portrayed a dog being forced to enter a pool against its will and suggested that the dog was traumatized as a result. No such thing occurred, nor would it ever occur under the supervision of our animal trainers.

In one sequence, the videotape shows our animal actor Hercules appearing resistant to being placed in the pool. A voice can be heard saying “Just gotta throw him in.” Next, Hercules can be seen in the water, the false implications being that Hercules was actually placed in the water against his will and that the voice that can be heard belongs to someone supervising Hercules.

Here is what actually occurred:

Hercules, a two-year old German Shepherd, had been in training for  months to perform the swimming scenes for this film. He was chosen for the film based on his love of the water. The shot that Hercules performed began with his jumping from the end of the pool into the water as he’d been conditioned to do, then swimming out to a stunt actor and pulling her to safety.

After many successful takes throughout the day, a request was made to have Hercules perform the same behavior, but changing the point from which he was to enter the pool. As the camera started rolling, the trainer in the water began to call the dog. It quickly became apparent that Hercules did not want to enter the pool from this location.

After less that one minute of Hercules insisting on getting back to his original starting point, this plan was abandoned and he was brought to the end of the pool from which he’d been conditioned to enter, and he did so happily.

We cannot identify the voice that appears on the videotape saying “Just gotta throw him in,” but there were many people on the film set and it was not anyone with any authority over Hercules’ welfare as some of the news coverage implied.

In the next shot, Hercules entered the pool from his rehearsed location. While swimming across the pool, the current carried him closer to the wall at end of the pool than it had in previous takes. When the dog reached the wall, he was briefly submerged at which point the diver an trainer immediately pushed him to the surface. Trainers poolside then pulled him out of the water. Hercules shook the water off and wagged his tail.

During the filming, an American Humane Representative was present at all times, approving and documenting every shot. Whenever Hercules was in the water there were two trainers poolside, one trainer in the water, a safety diver, as well as stunt personnel.

The day before the scene was filmed, Hercules and his trainers did a comprehensive rehearsal at the pool location with safety and stunt teams to make certain that safety measures were in place to insure that the dog was not put in any danger.

These safety measures that were put in place worked flawlessly to ensure that no harm came to the dog (or the people) who were in the water during filming that day.

Birds and Animals Unlimited is currently reviewing available footage of these scenes and is evaluating its legal options. In the meantime, we strongly encourage the news media that receive such disturbing, defamatory and maliciously edited videotapes to exercise caution in their broadcast and characterization.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Universal, Amblin Cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere Following PETA Boycott

Hollywood Animal Trainer on What 'A Dog's Purpose' Did Wrong

'A Dog's Purpose': Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

'A Dog's Purpose' Bitten by IMDb Users: 94 Percent Give Movie 1 Out of 10

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Dog Supplier, Handler Birds & Animals Unlimited Issue Statement As Tracking For Film Stalls

Birds & Animals Unlimited which has come under attack by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and was hired by Amblin Entertainment on the set of A Dog’s Purpose came out with its own statement today. That comes as Deadline hears that the tracking for the film which will be released this weekend “has started to stall.” PETA called for a boycott of the film after TMZ released a videotape of a man forcing a German Shepard into the water and another clip…

Birds & Animals Unlimited which has come under attack by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and was hired by Amblin Entertainment on the set of A Dog’s Purpose came out with its own statement today. That comes as Deadline hears that the tracking for the film which will be released this weekend “has started to stall.” PETA called for a boycott of the film after TMZ released a videotape of a man forcing a German Shepard into the water and another clip…

PETA Blasts ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer, Who Responded to Outrage by Saying ‘No Animals Were Harmed’

PETA won’t lets W. Bruce Cameron — author of the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and co-screenwriter of the controversial film — off the hook after he asserted that no dogs were harmed during the shoot. Cameron, in a statement issued Friday, said the commentary accompanying TMZ’s leaked video of a German Shepard had mischaracterized the incident. He… Read more »

PETA won’t lets W. Bruce Cameron — author of the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and co-screenwriter of the controversial film — off the hook after he asserted that no dogs were harmed during the shoot. Cameron, in a statement issued Friday, said the commentary accompanying TMZ’s leaked video of a German Shepard had mischaracterized the incident. He... Read more »

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Producer & Author After Seeing Full Tape: Dog Was Not In Danger

A Dog’s Purpose producer Gavin Polone said he’s had a change of heart after seeing the full video of a distressed German Shepherd on set. He says the dog was not in danger and believes agendas are being carried out for different purposes — that whomever cut the video and made it appear the dog was in danger and “probably sold it for money” to fulfill’s PETA’s stated agenda of ensuring no animal is ever used on a TV or movie set again. Also, producer Amblin Entertainment

A Dog’s Purpose producer Gavin Polone said he’s had a change of heart after seeing the full video of a distressed German Shepherd on set. He says the dog was not in danger and believes agendas are being carried out for different purposes — that whomever cut the video and made it appear the dog was in danger and “probably sold it for money” to fulfill’s PETA’s stated agenda of ensuring no animal is ever used on a TV or movie set again. Also, producer Amblin Entertainment

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Says ‘No Animals Were Harmed’ in Making of Film

W. Bruce Cameron, who wrote the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and is the co-screenwriter of the upcoming movie adaptation, released a statement Friday defending the film crew’s practices after a video surfaced earlier this week showing a dog apparently forced into a pool of rushing water.

The video was published by TMZ Wednesday, which called the dog, a German Shepherd named Hercules, “terrified” and said “the animal wanted NO part of” being pushed in the water. However, according to Cameron, that brief clip and commentary doesn’t accurately reflect what happened on set that day.

“The written commentary accompanying the edited video mischaracterizes what happened,” Cameron said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water — I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool. When he was asked to perform the stunt from the other side of the pool, which was not how he had been doing it all day, he balked. The mistake was trying to dip the dog in the water to show him it was okay — the water wasn’t his issue, it was the location that was the issue, and the dog happily did the stunt when he was allowed to return to his original spot.”

Also Read: Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

The film from Universal and Amblin, which stars Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid, K. J. Apa, Josh Gad, Peggy Lipton and Juliet Rylance, is set to hit theaters Jan. 27. Universal and Amblin canceled the film’s Saturday premiere after PETA called for a boycott of “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

Hollywood Animal Trainer on What ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Did Wrong

‘A Dog’s Purpose’: Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

W. Bruce Cameron, who wrote the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and is the co-screenwriter of the upcoming movie adaptation, released a statement Friday defending the film crew’s practices after a video surfaced earlier this week showing a dog apparently forced into a pool of rushing water.

The video was published by TMZ Wednesday, which called the dog, a German Shepherd named Hercules, “terrified” and said “the animal wanted NO part of” being pushed in the water. However, according to Cameron, that brief clip and commentary doesn’t accurately reflect what happened on set that day.

“The written commentary accompanying the edited video mischaracterizes what happened,” Cameron said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “The dog was not terrified and not thrown in the water — I’ve seen footage of Hercules earlier that day joyfully jumping in the pool. When he was asked to perform the stunt from the other side of the pool, which was not how he had been doing it all day, he balked. The mistake was trying to dip the dog in the water to show him it was okay — the water wasn’t his issue, it was the location that was the issue, and the dog happily did the stunt when he was allowed to return to his original spot.”

The film from Universal and Amblin, which stars Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid, K. J. Apa, Josh Gad, Peggy Lipton and Juliet Rylance, is set to hit theaters Jan. 27. Universal and Amblin canceled the film’s Saturday premiere after PETA called for a boycott of “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Universal, Amblin Cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' Premiere Following PETA Boycott

Hollywood Animal Trainer on What 'A Dog's Purpose' Did Wrong

'A Dog's Purpose': Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Writer Responds to Outrage: ‘Mistakes Were Made,’ but ‘No Animals Were Harmed’

W. Bruce Cameron, author of the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and co-screenwriter of the film — made controversial by a leaked video from the film’s set — has asserted that no dogs were harmed during the shoot. Cameron, in a statement issued Friday, said the commentary accompanying TMZ’s leaked video of a German Shepard mischaracterizes… Read more »

W. Bruce Cameron, author of the book “A Dog’s Purpose” and co-screenwriter of the film — made controversial by a leaked video from the film’s set — has asserted that no dogs were harmed during the shoot. Cameron, in a statement issued Friday, said the commentary accompanying TMZ’s leaked video of a German Shepard mischaracterizes... Read more »

Universal, Amblin Cancel ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Following PETA Boycott

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have canceled the upcoming premiere of “A Dog’s Purpose” in the wake of disturbing video released by TMZ that showed a trainer apparently pushing a struggling dog named Hercules into a pool.

The announcement came Thursday night, just one day after PETA called for a boycott of the family film that is set to hit theaters on Jan. 27.

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

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’: Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

“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,” the statement continued.

“We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday.”

A photo shoot featuring the dogs from the film has also been canceled, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Kaufman.

Wow: Just got word that the junket 4 “A Dog’s Purpose” is cancelled, as is a photoshoot where we had planned to snap the dogs from the film

— Amy Kaufman (@AmyKinLA) January 20, 2017

Also Read: PETA Urges ‘Dog’s Purpose’ Boycott, Says Pooch Was Terrorized

The premiere had been scheduled to take place at the Universal AMC CityWalk in Los Angeles at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the film’s stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton and Gabrielle Rose among those in attendance.

“A Dog’s Purpose” star Josh Gad, who plays the voice of a dog named Bailey, wrote a lengthy Facebook post Wednesday night in response to the video, saying: “I signed on for a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen. Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film.”

Gad emphasized that he doesn’t know any details behind the video and was not on set for the making of the film. But he is “shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will,” he said.

“As a proud dog owner and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation,” the “Frozen” voice actor continued.

Also Read: ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Star Josh Gad Is ‘Shaken and Sad’ Over ‘Disturbing’ Dog Video

The video, shot in November 2015 and published Wednesday by TMZ, shows a trainer appearing to force Hercules into a pool fitted with motors to simulate a whitewater river. The dog clawed at the edge of the pool before being finally pushed in. Hercules appeared to struggle to stay afloat until a voice yelled “cut” and handlers removed him from the pool.

The film’s director, Lasse Hallström, also posted his displeasure with the video.

“I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film ‘A Dog’s Purpose,’” he tweeted. “I did not witness these actions, which are unacceptable and would never happen with my knowledge.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘A Dog’s Purpose’: Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Star Josh Gad Is ‘Shaken and Sad’ Over ‘Disturbing’ Dog Video

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Producers Say German Shepherd Was Not Forced to Complete Scene (Report)

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have canceled the upcoming premiere of “A Dog’s Purpose” in the wake of disturbing video released by TMZ that showed a trainer apparently pushing a struggling dog named Hercules into a pool.

The announcement came Thursday night, just one day after PETA called for a boycott of the family film that is set to hit theaters on Jan. 27.

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

“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,” the statement continued.

“We continue to support this film, are incredibly proud of it and will release it for audiences nationwide next Friday.”

A photo shoot featuring the dogs from the film has also been canceled, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Amy Kaufman.

The premiere had been scheduled to take place at the Universal AMC CityWalk in Los Angeles at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the film’s stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton and Gabrielle Rose among those in attendance.

“A Dog’s Purpose” star Josh Gad, who plays the voice of a dog named Bailey, wrote a lengthy Facebook post Wednesday night in response to the video, saying: “I signed on for a film that truly stands out as one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen. Today, however, I saw a disturbing video that appears to show a scared German Shepherd being forced to perform a stunt on the set of this film.”

Gad emphasized that he doesn’t know any details behind the video and was not on set for the making of the film. But he is “shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will,” he said.

“As a proud dog owner and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation,” the “Frozen” voice actor continued.

The video, shot in November 2015 and published Wednesday by TMZ, shows a trainer appearing to force Hercules into a pool fitted with motors to simulate a whitewater river. The dog clawed at the edge of the pool before being finally pushed in. Hercules appeared to struggle to stay afloat until a voice yelled “cut” and handlers removed him from the pool.

The film’s director, Lasse Hallström, also posted his displeasure with the video.

“I am very disturbed by the video released today from the set of my film ‘A Dog’s Purpose,'” he tweeted. “I did not witness these actions, which are unacceptable and would never happen with my knowledge.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'A Dog's Purpose': Watch the Video That Outraged PETA

'A Dog's Purpose' Star Josh Gad Is 'Shaken and Sad' Over 'Disturbing' Dog Video

'A Dog's Purpose' Producers Say German Shepherd Was Not Forced to Complete Scene (Report)

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Premiere Cancelled Amid Disturbing Video Controversy

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… Read more »

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... Read more »