People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said supporters across the nation will engage “in lively protests” in front of theaters Friday on the opening night of the Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures movie A Dog’s Purpose. PETA has called for boycotts of the movie after a behind-the-scenes video was made public of a terrified dog who was forced into churning water on the set of the film during its Winnipeg shoot in October.
Demonstrations will take place in Los Angeles; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Winnipeg. People are also mobilizing in more than 25 other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego and Seattle.
“No amount of spin from Hollywood will change the fact that being forced to do a terrifying stunt is not a dog’s purpose,” says PETA SVP Lisa Lange. “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.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—recently released a video exposé of Hollywood animal supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, which provided the dogs used in A Dog’s Purpose.
In the wake of the video controversy, tracking has stalled on A Dog’s Purpose, putting its No. 1 prospects at the B.O. in question. Tracking originally for the film showed a $27M opening, but that has since fallen to $18M. Even if A Dog’s Purpose comes in No. 2, Universal will own the top two titles of the weekend. M. Night Shyamalan’s Split is expected to make $20M after grossing $50M this week for a total domestic take by Sunday of $70M.
Due to the P.R. nightmare from the leaked video of the German Shepherd on the set of A Dog’s Purpose, Uni cancelled the film’s premiere and junket last weekend. Producer Gavin Palone, who originally objected to the footage, had a change of heart after watching the full video of the distressed dog. Palone and the book’s author W. Bruce Cameron believe the dog was not in danger, and Palone believes agendas were carried out for different purposes: that whomever cut the video and made it appear the dog was in danger “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.
Uni says a reduced main unit shot the footage; not a second unit.