‘Prey’: Former Shelter Dog Coco Is the Breakout Star of the Blockbuster Movie

Hulu isn’t the first place most fans of the Predator franchise would think to go for the latest installment of the sci-fi franchise. After all, the previous four entries — six including the Alien vs. Predator crossover movies — premiered exclusively in theaters. But 2022’s Prey is a hit for the streamer — and the dog in the film has emerged as a breakout star.

The ‘Predator’ prequel is a hit with fans and critics alike

When Prey was announced, some fans were taken aback by the decision to make such a drastic change to the long-running franchise. Every previous Predator movie was set roughly in the modern age (or even the near future). But Prey takes place hundreds of years before even the original 1987 film. As it turns out, that might have been the break from tradition the series needed.

Starring Amber Midthunder, Prey has received nearly universal acclaim. The film boasts a 93% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And it earned record-high viewership for Hulu, according to The Hollywood Reporter. So the movie is a success by virtually any metric. But even fans who tuned in probably didn’t expect to discover a new star in Coco, the dog who plays Naru’s (Midthunder) dog Sarii.

‘Prey’ features a scene-stealing performance by a dog

Prey movie dog Coco
Actors Amber Midthunder and Coco the dog in a scene from the Hulu movie ‘Prey’ | David Bukach/20th Century Studios

Throughout much of Prey, Sarii joins Naru as she tracks and hunts the Predator, wreaking havoc near her village. So Coco has one of the more prominent roles in the movie. But not long before her breakout role, she was a shelter dog.

Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta recently took to social media to reveal Coco entered the facility’s care in early 2021 before making her way to showbiz. Prey marks the dog’s film debut, thanks to her adoptive family, who works in the entertainment industry.

“We are SO delighted that Coco found the life she has and is now shining a light on the potential of shelter dogs and what they are capable of when given a chance.”

Fulton County Animal Services via Facebook

Midthunder is equally enthusiastic about her Prey co-star.

“I love that dog with my whole heart and soul,” the actor told FreshFiction.tv. “It was rough. They got her two months before this movie. She had so much energy … So much of Coco being around was her running wild and doing laps and so excited to see everyone all the time. For me, personally, she was a dream — for making a movie, you know. The character of Sarii is very different than the character of Coco. That shows what a good filmmaker Dan [Trachtenberg] is.”

‘Prey’ is the most successful ‘Predator’ movie in decades

Audiences appreciate a solid animal actor performance, but Coco’s newfound fame isn’t even the most remarkable thing about Prey. The sci-fi movie — directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) — has singlehandedly revived a franchise that had long struggled to find a new direction. Arguably, it’s the first widely embraced Predator film since Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off the series.

1990’s Predator 2, 2010’s Predators, and 2018’s The Predator attempted spins on the man-versus-creature premise. However, none captured the essence of director John McTiernan’s (Die Hard) original. By completely changing the setting into something so different from what’s come before, Prey has fans hoping to see the Predator land on Earth in various periods throughout history. Time will tell if it happens.

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