PETA Protest Planned for ‘The Longest Ride’ Premiere Over Animal Cruelty (Updated)

Twentieth Century Fox takes issue with the protest, saying there is a “big distinction” between rodeos and the professional bull riding events depicted in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation

Last Updated: April 6, 2015 @ 5:17 PM

Updated on Apr. 6, 2015 at 3:06 p.m.:

A 20th Century Fox spokesman has told TheWrap that despite PETA’s claims, “rodeos” are not depicted in the “The Longest Ride,” but rather Professional Bull Riding is. Any scenes involving animals were overseen by the American Humane Association.

Previously:

While audiences will be crying during the premiere of Hollywood’s latest heart-tugging Nicholas Sparks adaptation, “The Longest Ride,” PETA will be crying out against animal cruelty at rodeos.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to line up outside the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. at 5:30 p.m. Monday to proclaim, “Real men don’t hurt animals.”

Nicholas Sparks should stick to long-lost lovers kissing in the rain, because there’s nothing romantic about violence to animals,” PETA Foundation deputy general counsel Delcianna Winders said. “The rodeo is a disgusting show in which pathetic people bully terrified animals who are simply trying to escape their abusers.”

“The Longest Ride,” a 20th Century Fox release, stars Scott Eastwood as a bull rider who captures the heart of Britt Robertson at an event. A spokesman for the studio told TheWrap that the movie does not depict any rodeos, however, as there is a “big distinction” between a rodeo and a professional bull riding event.

The bulls in the film were supplied by the Professional Bull Riders, Inc., a company which also oversaw their care.

“These bulls are treated like rock stars and we don’t do anything to mistreat them in any way. Any time you give exposure to our great athletes, then PETA is going to get involved. I am surprised by how misinformed they are,” Jim Haworth, chairman and CEO of the Professional Bull Riders, said in a statement to TheWrap. We are not worried about [the protest], it’s a great night for us from a celebration stand point. We are excited about the book that Nicholas Sparks book.”

Fox said the production had the American Humane Association on set for all of the bull riding scenes. Additionally, the production ensured that veterinarian reports were done on the bulls after each had completed filming, and the American Humane Association got a copy of the veterinarian’s report.

PETA says the American Humane Association’s monitoring of film and television productions is “woefully inadequate,” and argues rodeos cause animals great harm. Typical injuries include broken bones, huge bruises and massive internal bleeding. If injured past the point of being able to compete, the bulls are sent to be slaughtered.

People participating in the protest will inform passersby that rodeo employees use electric prods, sharp sticks, and painfully tight “bucking” straps to torment bulls into action.

“Bull riding is a rodeo event. Bulls don’t buck unless they’re provoked, and they buck in reaction to being uncomfortable, in pain, or scared,” PETA’s senior vice president Lisa Lange said in an additional statement to TheWrap. “Even in the trailer for the film, a bucking strap is visible on the bulls in all the rodeo scenes. Fox should have done the right thing when PETA wrote during pre-production and used existing rodeo footage of bull riding rather than tormenting more animals for a movie.”

Haworth, however denies PETA’s allegations.

“It is not accurate,” he said. “We do not do anything to probe or prod the bulls. We have rules against that, you can not do that. The bulls are so important to us. You have two great athletes out there (meaning the rider and the bull). They are misinformed. We are not a rodeo. We don’t do anything to probe or prod our bovine athletes.”

The studio maintains that PBR has an industry-leading animal welfare policy, and bucking bulls are actually genetically predisposed to perform, not prodded by negative stimulation.