Image via Universal.

A Dog’s Purpose, a movie about a dog, tanked in the US. But that won’t be stopping a sequel from happening!

According to a Wall Street Journal report, A Dog’s Purpose made $88 million in China to the $64 million it made domestically, and the success of the film already has Amblin Partners, producers of the film, penning part two. This time they’re considering Chinese audiences before production.

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At first, the movie wasn’t even planned for a release in China, but an executive from Alibaba Pictures, Wei Zheng, developed a strategy for it via focus groups:

Growing sales of toys for pets had tracked China’s rising middle class and its embrace of pet ownership. And “Dog’s Purpose” director Lasse Hallström’s earlier movie, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” was popular with customers of Alibaba’s on-demand video service. A strategy soon took shape.

Alibaba promoted the movie alongside pet adoption agencies and held special screenings for people and their dogs, Ms. Wei said. It plumbed its online movie-ticket service to target pet owners, families, women and others it believed would like the movie. Alibaba representatives traveled to theaters to persuade exhibitors to allocate screens, bringing the e-commerce data to support their pitch.

The film A Dog’s Purpose was beset by controversy in the US after footage leaked that appeared to show a least one dog suffering on set. Producers later gave an account of what happened on that ill-fated day and claimed that the footage was misleading.

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Long story short, you’re getting a sequel, dog cruelty or not. As Jeff Small, president of producers Amblin Partners, put it, “To say we were pleasantly surprised doesn’t do it justice.”