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Winner and loser of the week: Octavia Spencer treats families to a free screening; 'A Dog's Purpose' in trouble after animal footage leaked





Octavia Spencer. There's no hiding Spencer's generosity. The Hidden Figures star celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day by buying out an 8 p.m. showing at a Baldwin Hills movie theater in Los Angeles for families in need. This was no movie promo, Spencer herself purchased every ticket to the show. "My mom would not have been able to afford to take me and my siblings. So, I'm honoring her and all single parents this #mlkweekend," she wrote on Instagram. "Pass the word." Spencer's touching tribute to her mother didn't go unnoticed, her co-star and all around gift to the world, Taraji P. Henson, chimed in on Instagram. "This is how phenomenal this woman is," she wrote. Spencer was also named Woman of the Year by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding student theatrical group. Past recipients include Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, Anne Hathaway, Amy Poehler and Kerry Washington. And if all that isn't reason enough to make Spencer this week's winner, Hidden Figures continues to soar at the box office. Kudos.


A Dog's Purpose. For being a movie targeted toward dog-lovers, having PETA on its tail right before the premiere is certainly less than ideal. The film, based on the 2010 novel by W. Bruce Cameron, follows the life (or maybe I should say lives) of Bailey, a dog who is reincarnated through different breeds who finds "the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans." Why an animal lover would want to subject themselves to a movie where the dog dies over and over is beyond me, but that's beside the point. The film stepped into some serious dog poo this week when a minute-long video, obtained by TMZ,  showed a visibly distressed German shepherd being forced into a pool of rushing water for a scene. The edited footage then cuts to the dog submerged, with a crew member off-camera saying "Cut it! Cut it!"

Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures said in a joint statement that Hercules, the poor pup in question, was happy and healthy. "While we continue to review the circumstances shown in the edited footage, Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film."

Devoted dog lovers and would-be target audience members were still quick to condemn the footage. Many tweeting out that a dog's purpose isn't to be a movie prop. Even cast and crew members felt the need to respond. Director Lasse Hallstrom tweeted out that he was "very disturbed" by the footage and that "a thorough investigation" would be coming. He followed it up with another tweet, saying

"I have been a lifelong animal lover, and ‘A Dog's Purpose' is my third film about dogs. The animals' safety was of utmost priority."

Josh Gad, the actor who voiced the dog, said on Twitter that he was "shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will."

Mark Stubis, a spokesman for the American Humane Association, which gives the "no animals were harmed" seal of approval, said in a statement that there was a representative present during the filming of the stunt. That employee was put on administrative leave. "When the dog showed signs of resistance to jumping in the water, the scene should have been stopped," Mr. Stubis said in the statement. Ruff week.

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have since canceled the movie's premiere, which was set for this weekend.  Universal and Amblin issued another statement saying that because Amblin's review into the video is still ongoing, Universal Pictures has decided to cancel the premiere and press junket. "Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals." 

The wide release is scheduled for Jan. 27.


[Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2017 5:43pm]


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