The Longest Ride, a film based off of a Nicholas Sparks movie and starring Clint Eastwood's son Scott Eastwood, premiered 6 April, with a makeshift western rodeo set up on a famous stretch of Hollywood Boulevard.
But not everyone is celebrating the film, which tells the story of romance set amongst the backdrop of rodeo, and animal rights groups took to the street to protest the glorification of a sport that they say is cruel to bulls.
"Being around a long time isn't an excuse for cruelty, and these bulls, they are antagonized into bucking, they don't just do it naturally, they either use electric prods or spurs or, as we saw actually in the preview for this movie, bucking straps, which are straps or ropes that are tied around the animals' abdomens and cinched very tightly around the animals' most sensitive organs, which causes them to buck because they're in pain, they're uncomfortable, and they're in fear," says Liam Conim, a spokesperson for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which led protests against The Longest Ride.
Rodeo involves the riding of bulls that are provoked into bucking using electric prods, sharp sticks, and tight "bucking" straps to torment bulls into action. PETA claims that common injuries to the animals include broken bones, huge bruises, and massive internal bleeding, and that bulls who are severely injured are sent to slaughter.
"This isn't an event that should be out here in the public eye, and it certainly shouldn't be romanticised in a Hollywood film," adds Cronim.
The film is based on the bestselling 2013 novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, the world-renowned author of popular romantic fiction (The Notebook, Dear John), and stars Scott Eastwood as a risk-taking rodeo cowboy caught up in a romance with a young woman who is about to start her life in the New York art world. The film also stars Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, and Oona Chaplin, a granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin.
Eastwood says that the focus of the film shouldn't solely be on the rodeo.
"It's bigger than a rodeo film, it's bigger than a PBR film, it's a movie about life, it's a movie about life choices and the choices we make, and I think that's important," he says.
The Longest Ride opens on 10 April in the US, but heads to UK cinemas on 19 June.