The on-screen death of a dog, often a Very Good Boy, is a contentious plot device. For some viewers, the fate of the canine character entirely determines whether they will watch a film: A search of the phrase “Does the dog die in …” on Yahoo Answers returns more than 100,000 results (though not all relating to films) while public demand for answers has also given rise to the site DoesTheDogDie.com, through which users can pre-warn one another about animal death (and also, for some reason, whether a film contains vomiting or farts). Dogs matter to audiences, often more than people. The fate of the doglike direwolves has long been a major concern for June Thomas on Slate’s Game of Thrones podcast, and I cannot think of a single movie moment that scarred me more than the death of the dog in Fear.
With such emotional investment in our fictional four-legged friends, it's unsurprising that questions have sprung up regarding the survival of the beautiful golden lab featured in the trailer for The Mountain Between Us, the upcoming disaster-survival-romance movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba as strangers who must work together to survive after their charter plane crashes into the aforementioned mountain.
The unnamed dog, played by newcomers Raleigh and Austin in their dual debut, belongs to the plane’s pilot, who has a heart attack in the opening minutes of the film, though from shots of the dog gleefully galloping through the snow behind Elba, he seems to have forgotten his best friend rather quickly. The dog’s appearances in the main trailer—in which the human protagonists face freezing temperatures, falling through ice, sliding toward precipices, and a mountain lion—are ominously sporadic, leaving commenters wondering whether the dog will survive and/or whether Kate Winslet will eat the dog. (She’s notoriously heartless in freezing conditions.) DoesTheDogDie.com is of little use to dead-doggophobes, with the film receiving 13 “yes” votes and 5 “no” votes to the vague question of “Does an animal die?” from voters who have not yet seen the film, making the website virtually useless.
In response, The Mountain Between Us has released a teaser trailer clarifying that the dog does not in fact die. “Spoiler Alert!” the accompanying Facebook status reads. “The dog lives.” The dog-centric trailer shows off the wonderful doggo wagging his tail, barking excitedly, cocking his head, and piercing your soul with his expressive brown eyes.
The studio-sanctioned leak is the opposite of the current trend toward stringent spoiler suppression from filmmakers. And it appears to have fulfilled its aim, with most of the new trailer’s comments from reassured dog lovers who are only now planning to see the film.
“I wasn't planning to see the movie just because I was afraid that the dog was going to die,” said one. “Too much suffering in the world to then go see a movie to escape reality for a little bit and then find out that the dog got killed … not for me. Now that I know that the dog will live I will definitely go see the movie.” Another now says it’s safe to see in public. “I was considering waiting until DVD because I would definitely ugly cry in the theaters if the dog died. Now I know it's a safe outing!”
No word yet on whether Kate Winslet makes it through. Not that it matters. The most important character is going to be fine.