EXCLUSIVE: Global Road is stepping up and re-cutting its family film Show Dogs after mommy bloggers and groups including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation took issue with a subplot involving the lead undercover police dog Max (voiced by Ludacris), who while being inspected at a dog show becomes comfortable with strangers touching his genitals.
The new cut of the film will be available in theaters by this weekend.
In statement released exclusively to Deadline, Global Road Entertainment said:
“Responding to concerns raised by moviegoers and some specific organizations, Global Road Entertainment has decided to remove two scenes from the film Show Dogs that some have deemed not appropriate for children. The company takes these matters very seriously and remains committed to providing quality entertainment for the intended audiences based on the film’s rating. We apologize to anybody who feels the original version of Show Dogs sent an inappropriate message. The revised version of the film will be available for viewing nationwide starting this weekend.”
The PG-rated film, originally developed by Global Road’s predecessor Open Road, received an A- CinemaScore from audiences and opened sixth at last weekend’s box office to a lackluster $6 million.
Those who’ve taken umbrage with the dog inspection portion of the film argue that the scenes send the wrong message to kids: that it’s OK for children to become comfortable with inappropriate touching. In the scenes, Max is advised by a former champion dog to go to his “zen place” in order to get through the dog show’s genital inspection.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation released a statement blasting the film, saying the movie “sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse…It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”
On Tuesday, Global Road released a statement responding to moviegoers’ concerns, but today they’re going a step further and righting the wrongs in the film.
“It has come to our attention that there have been online discussion and concern about a particular scene in Show Dogs, a family comedy that is rated PG,” the distributor said yesterday. “The dog show judging in this film is depicted completely accurately as done at shows around the world; and was performed by professional and highly respected dog show judges. Global Road Entertainment and the filmmakers are saddened and apologize to any parent who feels the scene sends a message other than a comedic moment in the film, with no hidden or ulterior meaning, but respect their right to react to any piece of content.”
As part of the backlash, Cineplex Australia pulled Show Dogs from its theaters, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation called upon big chains AMC and Regal to follow suit. However, with Global Road deleting the offensive scenes and re-releasing it, such actions should ease concerns and maintain the pic’s hold on screens.
Show Dogs was directed by Raja Gosnell and stars Will Arnett, Stanley Tucci, Natasha Lyonne and Alan Cumming. Critics loathed Show Dogs with a 21% Rotten Tomatoes score.