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HOTEL FOR DOGS

About The 'Hotel For Dogs'
Andi (Emma Roberts) and her younger brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) have a secret – a furry, adorable and always hungry Jack Russell Terrier named Friday. When they can no longer keep their beloved pet in their small apartment, with a strict no-dogs allowed policy, the siblings will do whatever it takes to make a new home for him.

That's the premise of "Hotel for Dogs,” an inventive urban fairy tale based on Lois Duncan's beloved children's book. Passionate dog-lover, activist and film producer Lauren Shuler Donner felt the book's strong message about the importance of family – however unconventional it may be – made the novel an ideal property to bring to the big screen.

What stood out for her was the fact that the story presented ample opportunities for humor and adventure. "‘Hotel for Dogs' is as much an adventure as it is a comedy. Andi and Bruce have to ingeniously find a way to hide their own dog, Friday, and eventually, every stray dog they come across,” says Shuler Donner. "The more dogs they rescue, the more dangerous it becomes for them. So Bruce has to keep coming up with new inventions to keep the dogs happy and quiet.”

The comedy, she continues, "comes from the dogs' personalities and interactions – like one who likes to chew everything and the dog who howls if he can't look out the window, which all become running jokes that get funnier and funnier. I sensed that working with the dogs would give rise to some happy accidents on the set – and I was right. And then, of course, there were the fun machines Bruce puts together from stuff the rest of us would regard as junk. They're all so clever, you just have to laugh in appreciation.”

"As you can tell,” laughs Shuler Donner,” I'm a big dog lover. My husband and I rescue dogs. We have three now. So, right away, that part of the story spoke to me.

"And I love kids as well,” she continues. "These kids cause a bit of havoc because they are willing to do anything to stick together. Until these dogs come into their lives, they are afraid to connect to anyone else. When they set out to fight the system and rescue the dogs, they ultimately end up being saved themselves.

"There's a key scene in the film in which Andi tells her brother that they really should find Friday a real family, and he insists that they are a real family,” she says. "Eventually they adopt all these dogs and they do become the real family he's talking about. So family is where you find it, family is the gathering of those closest to you.”

Making his feature-film directorial debut, filmmaker Thor Freudenthal was drawn to the way the film's themes spoke to the importance of a sense of belonging. "It draws an interesting parallel between the kids and the dogs,” says Freudenthal. "Although I was aware that it was a risk to jump into directing my first feature working with both kids and animals, I recognized the importance and relevance of the story and thought it was worth it.”

Producer Jason Clark had worked with Freudenthal on both "Stuart Little” movies, for which Freudenthal served as lead storyboard artist. His ability to produce CGI characters with lifelike personalities and emotion told Clark that Freudenthal's acute attention to visual detail made him a perfect candidate to direct "Hotel for Dogs.”

"I was fascinated by Thor's creativity and his ability to create characters and moments that rely on visuals rather than dialogue,” explains Clark. "I knew he would be able to imbue the dog characters with qualities we would all fall in love with.”

Shuler Donner was determined that "Hotel for Dogs” stand out from other family movies visually and believes that Freudenthal's experience in animation gave him a unique edge. "We viewed a short film he directed and, within three minutes, we knew he was the guy,” she<

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