HBO seems to be out of luck in one of its new series. The show ‘Luck’, which is a drama about horse racing, has been cancelled due to a poor ratings performance and due to the deaths of horses.
The show has been filmed for 10months, and in that time 3 horses injured themselves and had to be euthanized by their holders. In the entertainment industry, it is a must that shows and movies can claim that no animals were hurt during the making of their film. Those in the industry and the public want movies and shows that don’t cause any harm or death to animals.
Previously, the only death of a horse occurred in ‘3:10 to Yuma’, which was in 2007, according the American Humane Association’s TV and film unit. Karen Rosas, vice president of the unit has stated that this level of death in horses on a single project is unprecedented. The association watches after more than 2000 productions that include animals a year.
In the production of Luck, the race scenes were filmed in furlong shots, rather than one long, continuous piece. Even though this made it much safer for the horses, in the 2,500 race scenes shot, 3 horses injured themselves. Two of the horses fractured their legs, while one horse suffered head injuries after slipping and falling backwards. Following those injuries, the horses were euthanized.
The contrast to the view of the entertainment industry and public when compared to that of the horse racing industry and racegoers is vast. While those in film production have a zero tolerance policy to harm to animals, an estimated 1 horse in 500 starts is injured and then killed.
The television show was filmed in Arcadia, a suburb in Los Angeles that contains an historic horse racing track. Luck’s high profile was hoped to win a high share of the ratings, but failed to deliver an audience. The series creator was David Milch (NYPD Blue.) and starred Dustin Hoffman (In his first television series.), Joan Allen, Nick Nolte, Michael Gambon and Dennis Farina.
There was some success, however, as 4.8 million people watched per episode when DVR numbers are taken into account. This doesn’t help Luck in any way, as due to the low ratings and deaths of the horse is now over as a series. The pressure from animal rights groups, such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA.), was enough to make HBO and their parent company Time Warner to reconsider making any future episodes.