The Hollywood premiere of A Dog's Purpose was canceled Thursday evening after the event was overshadowed by a disturbing video of a dog apparently being mistreated during filming. Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment said that because the investigation is ongoing, they decided to "cancel this weekend's premiere and press junket," per the Hollywood Reporter. In a joint statement, Universal and Amblin said they did not "want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals." They said they're still "incredibly proud" of the film and its nationwide release will go ahead next Friday.
The video of Hercules, a German shepherd, being forced into churning waters was condemned by the movie's director, Lasse Hallstrom, and voice star Josh Gad, USA Today reports. According to TMZ, the premiere was called off because execs feared PETA protesters would "create an embarrassing or even violent scene." In a statement, senior PETA exec Lisa Lange said the cancellation was appropriate, adding: "Now it is up to filmmakers to do the right thing going forward and no longer use animals in movies." Gavin Polone, the movie's producer, is also an animal rights activist. He tells Deadline that he's "horrified" by the video. "If I had seen that, I would have stopped it in a minute," he says. "People have to be held responsible for this. It was someone's job to watch out for this kind of thing. Why didn't they?" (Read more A Dog's Purpose stories.)