Over the past couple of years, I introduced my now wife to an old set of movies that I watched a bit as a child. Joe Camp’s Benji. She wound up digging a bit deeper into the world of Joe Camp, and found that he was planning a team up movie with Benji and a horse that he had. Unfortunately, that horse died unexpectedly and the project seemed to fall apart. She continues to read Joe Camp’s blog regularly, though, because of her love of horses and dogs.
However, yesterday I got to tell her that Walden Media was planning to bring Benji back. That was all she needed to know to be sold on it. The funny thing is, when we were watching it, and I was thinking that it would be great if it was rebooted for today’s audiences. The first film seemed very dated, definitely not aging well.
Walden Media and Fox have hired Brandon Camp, son of “Benji” creator Joe Camp Jr., to write, direct and produce a film that will reboot the character for a new crop of young moviegoers.
Camp will begin a nationwide search to find a dog and hopes to partner with a rescue organization to “screen test dogs in pounds,” he said, because the original Benji, a dog named Higgins, was a pound puppy.
“My fantasy is to find a stray,” Camp said. “The original Benji, the one most of us grew up with, is the look that I’ll be going for.”
Camp recently co-wrote and helmed Universal’s “Love Happens,” starring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston, and he is attached to direct Walden’s family comedy “Relativity.”
Camp had been thinking about reviving the “Benji” brand for years. With the majors increasingly focused on well-known pop culture icons from a generation ago for remakes, Camp said he felt the time was ripe “from a business point of view.” The producer felt the property needed a heavy hitter behind the brand to get the new Benji in front of as many audiences as possible. But Camp didn’t want to pair up with just any production shingle for the UTA-packaged project.
“Benji is a heartfelt character, and he’s always been an underdog,” Camp said. “Many companies are interested in bringing back a project purely for the namesake and not the storytelling.”
In Walden Media, he said, he found a partner that would stick closely to the “true emotional journey that Benji went on.”
Brandon Camp retains all rights to the Benji character on behalf of his family.
“Brandon is the only person on this planet I would trust to carry the torch, and Walden is the perfect fit,” said Joe Camp Jr. “It’s very satisfying, if not downright emotional, to know that the Camp name will continue to be attached to Benji.”