Paw-fect outing

Owners and their pet dogs (above) at the Roxie Theatre for a screening of Isle Of Dogs, with some pooches getting their own seats (left).
Owners and their pet dogs (above) at the Roxie Theatre for a screening of Isle Of Dogs, with some pooches getting their own seats.PHOTOS: NYTIMES
Owners and their pet dogs (above) at the Roxie Theatre for a screening of Isle Of Dogs, with some pooches getting their own seats (left).
Owners and their pet dogs at the Roxie Theatre for a screening of Isle Of Dogs, with some pooches getting their own seats (above).PHOTOS: NYTIMES

SAN FRANCISCO • It was Charlie Bucket's first trip to the movies and he dressed up for the occasion, looking sharp in a flowered bow tie.

Charlie, an 18-month-old Yorkie-Cairn terrier mix, was one of many first-timers at the Roxie Theatre here on Monday night. The theatre was holding a sneak preview of Wes Anderson's new film, Isle Of Dogs, with a particularly appropriate twist - the screening was B.Y.O.D., or bring your own dog.

Outside the sold-out event, pups posed for photographs on a red carpet before heading into the 234-seat theatre to find their spots.

"Dogs get the seats," said Ms Isabel Fondevila, the Roxie's director of programming. "And we have a lint roller ready for after."

But as the theatre filled up, the seats proved a bit challenging for some guests. When Leila, a seven-month-old Chihuahua-cocker spaniel mix, twisted around to sniff the theatre behind her, the seat popped up, folding her inside. "She's too light," said Ms Emily Happe, 21, scooping Leila onto her lap.

Monday's event was conceived by Ms Andrea Bertolini, a senior account executive at Allied Integrated Marketing, which is publicising Isle Of Dogs. The stop-motion film, opening nationwide tomorrow, is set in the fictional Japanese city Megasaki, where all dogs have been banished to a dump called Trash Island.

Ms Bertolini said she knew as soon as she saw the trailer that she wanted to hold a dog-friendly screening. "I thought, 'Who would be amenable?' A lot of chain theatres probably would have said, 'Have a nice day.'"

But the people at the Roxie Theatre were excited about the idea - and they had experience. For the past two years, the New York Dog Film Festival has travelled to the theatre, which has welcomed canine customers alongside their humans.

As show time approached, the night's official host, a one-eyed bichon-shih-tzu rescue named Pirate with an Instagram account, and his owner's husband Greg McQuaid, 48, made their way to the stage. They were joined by Ms Kristin Hoff, adoptions manager at Muttville, a senior dog rescue organisation in San Francisco, and her foster dog, Ela.

There, they made a pitch for adopting older dogs. Mr McQuaid also reminded owners that dogs should be taken outside if they became aggressive or upset.

Even Pirate might need a break. "He's kind of a grumpy old man," said Mr McQuaid. "He hates joy and merriment of any kind, so we're not sure a Wes Anderson film is the best choice."

Pirate wagged his tail.

NYTIMES

• Isle Of Dogs opens in Singapore on May 10.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2018, with the headline 'Paw-fect outing'. Print Edition | Subscribe