The New Benji Trailer is finally here:
Only On NETFLIX – March 16th
“Netflix is hoping to learn some new tricks from an old dog,” reported the Los Angeles Times on Saturday.
“The streaming video behemoth has acquired the rights to a new 2018 version of the classic family film Benji, featuring the canine character that became an unlikely box-office sensation in the 1970s and ’80s. After this film premiers in March the company has the option to partner on sequels or a TV series, furthering its venture into family programming.”
Brandon Camp, the youngest son of Benji creator Joe Camp, said, “Netflix is the ideal alternative for families who want to watch engaging, inspiring films with their kids, and kids who want to watch them over and over.” The younger Camp wrote and directed the new Benji film, number six for the floppy-eared star.
“If you are an owner of family-oriented premium content that has any kind of brand or franchise value, you are in a great position right now,” said Peter Csathy, chairman of the tech advisory firm Creatv Media. “The war is on and it’s all about amassing the largest army of compelling franchises that you can.”
“Benji’s journey into streaming offers a lesson in deal making in the Netflix era,” the Times article continued.
“People all over the world grew up having watched Benji with their families,” Scott Stuber, head of original film at Netflix, said in a statement to the Times. “We knew this film will allow our members around the world to keep sharing this story with their families.”
“In our release of the original Benji adult ticket sales out-numbered kid tickets by a figure of 2:1,” Joe Camp added. “Benji’s movies are truly enjoyed by all ages, but in Los Angeles today it can cost as much as $125 for a family of five to go to the movies. We believe that family streaming is the future and we’re very proud that Netflix has chosen Benji to lead this charge.”
The smoke from a huge, black cigar lay heavy across the room, stirred only by the cigar itself as it leaped from mouth to hand, swirled and circled up from the chair, danced across the huge office, then paused to jab at the air like a driving piston.
Ed and I sat in stunned silence. There was a dank, black empty feeling oozing down over me. Cold and distant, yet agonizingly painful. The words spewing from the smoke of the fat man’s cigar, were going astray, some hitting, some missing. I was drifting in and out. Had all of this been for nothing? The question was directed at God. With attitude I’m afraid. The years of preparation? The experience? The planning? The dreams?
“Totally wrong for Paramount!’ barked the mouth behind the cigar. “It’s too damn sweet. And the music is… well… it’s… it’s too sticky… it’s all wrong. If you cut the Clairol sequence, we might try something with Saturday matinees, but beyond that… I mean, at night it doesn’t have a chance!”
The words fell out of his mouth like crystal shattering on a tile floor. We had tried Disney. And Fox, and MGM, and Warner Brothers. Everybody! This simply couldn’t be happening!
We couldn’t get a distributor. No one wanted it. Not one. Zero.
The following summer Variety reported that the movie Benji had the #3 box office gross in all the land. Most of it with adults. At night.
God’s hand at work. Up close and personal.
I was miserable. Benji Off the Leash was not doing well.
“But what’s the point?” I said.
“It’s been playing for nine days. How many people have seen it?” The speaker was famed Radio talk show host Hank Hanegraaf.
I thought about it for a moment, did the math.
“Maybe a million.”
“So a million people have already seen the movie. There’s one point. A million lives have been made better, have been changed, because of that movie. And God is not finished. You will look back some day and not even believe what all came out of this moment in time.”
“You mean I’ll look back and be able to see how much God had to slap me around to get me to listen?”
“That for sure,” he grinned. “And a whole lot more.”
I smiled. A little.
For the first time in nine days.
I had no idea how true Hank Hanegraaf’s words would turn out to be.
And I was blown away.
It’s been fifteen years since I last watched it. It was such a very difficult shoot it’s sometimes hard to disassociate all the problems we had with every location, every shot. Back then, I was probably never able to just sit back and watch it as a movie. It was seriously difficult because there are only five minutes of people in the entire film. The rest is all animals. Bears, wolves, hawks, ferrets, bunnies, owls, and cougars. Big ones and small ones. And every one of them had to literally act on the screen just as Benji does to tell the story. To portray their feelings and emotions and intentions every bit as well as Benji does. And they do. I watched it last night as I would watch any other movie. Well, almost. I don’t come out of most movies so very proud. Proud that I had just watched a classic film unlike any I have ever seen. And there will probably never be another quite like it. Remember there was no CGI back then. No digitally painting a worried face onto an otherwise happy animal. Or vice versa. What you see is real. Just the way we shot it. It’s exciting, and amazing, and very entertaining. All of which is why I can say, unapologetically, it blew me away. It’s available on Amazon as instant video to rent or buy, and as a DVD. Disney was the distributor on this one so we get nothing when you watch. But I highly recommend it to you. Here’s the link:
Brandon, my youngest, sent these photos of the production office walls in New Orleans where he is directing the next Benji movie. The only caption was “Dear Dad… The world you created lives on.” Sniff. Can’t wait to visit this weekend.