Benji Is Back Back Back!

Brandon Camp takes over the family dog

Benji Is Back Back Back!

by James White |
Published on

“There's a voice that keeps on calling me. Down the road, that's where I'll always…” No. Hang on… That’s The Littlest Hobo. Let’s try that again. Scrappy mutt Benji is the one planning a cinematic comeback, and he’s got some familiar (and familial) support behind him.

Brandon Camp, who last directed Aaron Eckhart/Jennifer Aniston romance-fest Love Happens, is aiming to get his father Joe Camp Jr’s canine creation in front of a fresh audience, sealing a deal with Walden Media to make a new movie and launching a search for the right shelter dog to play the loveable hound. "My fantasy is to find a stray," Camp tells Variety. "The original Benji, the one most of us grew up with, is the look that I'll be going for."

First unleashed (sorry) on the world in 1974 by ad man Joe, the tale of Benji has been an underdog (no, really, we are sorry) story from the start. Camp had to scrape together independent financing for the film about a homeless pooch that is adopted by a loving family. Without a studio home to support it, Camp and his wife Carolyn got their passion project a booking at two Dallas cinemas and then spread it across the US, where it earned $40 million, followed by an overseas release which dragged in an extra $16 million. Not bad for something that was made for less than $100,000 (admittedly still a hefty chunk of cash in the early ‘70s).

Since then, the shaggy dog story (can't... stop) has spawned sequels, spin-offs, TV series – UK readers of a certain age may recall 1983’s sci-fi telly trip Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince – books and merchandise. More recent attempts have met with mixed success with 2004’s Benji: Off the Leash flopping, but the new DVD series doing decent business.

And in this remake / reboot / repurpose culture, it seems natural that someone would want to keep that cash dog barking (not even sure what that means). "Benji is a heartfelt character, Camp says. "Many companies are interested in bringing back a project purely for the namesake and not the storytelling." And Joe seems happy, too: "Brandon is the only person on this planet I would trust to carry the torch, and Walden is the perfect fit. It's very satisfying, if not downright emotional, to know that the Camp name will continue to be attached to Benji."

Hope the development process won’t be “ruff”. (You’re not just fired, we’re having you put down – Ed.)

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us