A Dog's Purpose, directed by Lasse Hallström was a success at the China box office, a testament to the increasing number of dog lovers and pet owners in the country. The movie has reportedly earned 370.8 million Yuan ($53.6 million) in just ten days of exhibition. This is very significant because China is infamous for its illegal Yulin Dog Meat festival. There are over 62 million registered dogs in China, so their families were obviously interested in watching the film.
Website Yibada points out that La La Land, which won six Oscars at the 89th Academy Awards, had earned similar same amount of money in China, but after 25 days of exhibition. It is also noteworthy that A Dog's Purpose has managed to beat Logan at the Chinese box office, which is Hugh Jackman's final movie as the adamantium clawed mutant. Yibada notes that Logan earned only two times more than A Dog's Purpose in China.
The Lasse Hallström directed movie had received a lot of criticism for its alleged mistreatment of dogs while shooting the film. The production staff were accused of forcing a frightened dog to jump in the water, making the dog exhausted. Producer Gavin Palone assured everyone that as an animal lover himself, no animal was even remotely harmed during the filming and that would defeat the purpose of the film, which tries to show us about the meaning of a dog's presence in our lives and the beauty of that relationship. The TMZ video was later found to be manipulated and was intentionally edited out of context to mislead the public right before the film's release.
The movie has been produced by Amblin Entertainment, whose founder, director Steven Spielberg himself is a dog lover. He is currently executive producing the Jurassic World sequel which will reportedly tackle the issue of animal abuse. Hallström had also directed the critically acclaimed Hachi: A Dog's Tale in 2009, based on the true story of the beloved Japanese Akita dog Hachikō, who had waited for his owner, a Japanese professor, for nine years, unaware that he had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and would never return. The professor had rescued the dog as a pup after it had been abandoned. Hachikō died waiting for his master and is revered in Japan as a symbol of unconditional loyalty and love.
As for China, animal activism and welfare, especially towards helpless stray animals has been on the rise in the country of late. There have been tremendous protests against the illegal dog meat industry and the Yulin festival. Raids have been conducted and animals have even been rescued. There have been brave animal lovers who have undertook extreme physical and psychological risk and burden to save innocent dogs and pups that were stolen from homes to be butchered for money. Numerous petitions online have got tremendous response and letters have been sent to the Chinese government as well, asking them to outlaw and severely punish those engaged in dog meat trade.
It is understandable then, why A Dog's Purpose worked in China. It reminds all dog owners, animal lovers and activists about our furry friends and the immense joy and love they bring to our lives.
A Dog's Purpose, based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, stars Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, Josh Gad, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Peggy Lipton among others. The film is playing in theatres in Singapore now. Watch the trailer below.