Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have announced they are cutting ties with controversial comedian Louis C.K., who will not be returning for the animated sequel The Secret Life of Pets 2. The move comes in the wake of a New York Times report where five women came forward and revealed that the beloved comedian either masturbated in front of them, or during phone conversations. In a surprising move, Louis C.K. admitted these stories were true in an impassioned statement earlier today, which has lead to an exodus of sorts, with networks, studios, production companies and even his publicists cutting ties with the comedian.
In the original animated hit The Secret Life of Pets, Louis C.K. provided the voice of Max, a beloved Jack Russell Terrier dog who was the main protagonist in the story, who had been expected to return but will no longer do so. It isn't known if the character will be completely written out of the film, or if Universal and Illumination will simply re-cast the role. Universal has already set June 7, 2019 as The Secret Life of Pets 2 release date, which puts it up against Sony's Charlie's Angels reboot and an untitled 20th Century Fox/Marvel movie. It seems unlikely that this casting move will have any impact on the release date or the production schedule.
The original Secret Life of Pets is set in a bustling Manhattan apartment building, following the daily lives of pets, after all of their owners leave for work every day. The embattled Louis C.K. voiced the building's "top dog" named Max, a quick witted terrier rescue who's convinced he sits at the center of his owner's universe. His pampered life is turned upside down when his owner brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a sloppy, massive mess of a mongrel with zero interpersonal skills. When this reluctant canine duo find themselves out on the mean streets of New York, they have to set aside their differences and unite against a fluffy-yet cunning bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart), who's building an army of ex-pets abandoned by their owners and out to turn the tables on humanity. The first movie was a smash hit, earning $368.3 million domestic (the fourth highest grossing movie of last year) and $875.5 million worldwide (sixth highest grossing movie of last year).
This move by Universal and Illumination comes at the end of a day where practically every company that has any sort of ties to the actor has cut him loose. Yesterday, The Orchard canceled the premiere of his new movie, I Love You, Daddy, which he wrote, directed and stars in alongside Chloe Moretz, Pamela Adlon and more, and today, The Orchard has cancelled the I Love You, Daddy release altogether. At the same time, HBO announced they will be editing his material out of their Night of Too Many Stars to benefit autism research, which will debut Saturday, November 18, while Netflix also announced they will not move forward with the stand-up comedy specials they had planned with the comedian. FX also announced they are cancelling their overall deal with Louis C.K. and his production company Pig Newton, while TBS announced they are stopping production of the animated series entitled The Cops, which Louis C.K. co-created with Albert Brooks.
The allegations against Louis C.K. came to light in a New York Times article published yesterday, where five women came forward and revealed that the iconic comedian had either masturbated in front of them, or during phone conversations. The actor and comedian admitted in a lengthy statement that those women were telling the truth and he did commit those acts, apologizing to everyone involved. Louis C.K. is just the latest to be accused of sexual misconduct in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, with scores of women coming forward to accuse others of sexual harassment and/or assault, such as director James Toback, director Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Steven Seagal, Andy Dick, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven and many more. Deadline broke the news about the latest to cut ties with Louis C.K. earlier today.