Carrie Rengers

Bill Warren makes surprise reversal on showing dog movie

Dennis Quaid stars in “A Dog’s Purpose,” which Bill Warren initially refused to play at his Warren Theatres but now plans to open on Friday.
Dennis Quaid stars in “A Dog’s Purpose,” which Bill Warren initially refused to play at his Warren Theatres but now plans to open on Friday. Courtesy photo

“Guess what dog movie I’m opening Friday?”

So asks Bill Warren, who last month refused to showA Dog’s Purpose” at his Warren Theatres due to what he and others thought was animal abuse during the making of the film.

Based on the beloved best-selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, "A Dog’s Purpose," from director Lasse Hallström, shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the l

A video that was widely circulated before the movie’s debut showed a frightened German shepherd named Hercules being forced into churning water.

“There was an independent investigation,” Warren says. “They determined the video was doctored, and there were no animals hurt or endangered.”

He says the video was doctored by omission.

“We just saw one part where the dog was struggling a little bit,” Warren says.

“In hindsight, and hindsight’s pretty easy, there probably could be a video of me trying to get my dog in my car and … you could take a 10-second clip, and it might look like he was struggling or I was struggling trying to get him in the seat.”

Warren, who has a well-known love of animals in general and dogs in particular, says he was quick to not show the film because he was outraged by the video he saw.

“I based it on what I knew, and I’m not sorry I did what I did,” he says. “I just think it’s unfortunate that it happened, but I also think that everyone in the movie business will be doubly careful in the future, so probably some good will come out of this.”

Warren says he’s pleased with how Universal Pictures, the movie’s distributor, handled his initial decision to not show the movie.

“They were just great.”

He says judging by the way Universal representatives reacted, “I think they probably had some of the same feelings I did until they found out the truth.”

Warren says he thinks the movie will do OK at his theaters but not as well as it would have if it had opened on time.

“Did I lose some money doing this? You bet I did,” he says. “The first couple of weeks is when a movie does 75 percent of its business.”

Warren says it’s not about the money, though.

“Because if it was, I’d have played the movie in the first place.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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