Netflix has released the first trailer and poster for the highly-anticipated Benji movie, which is getting ready to debut on the streaming service March 16. This movie comes from producer Jason Blum and his team of horror masters over at Blumhouse, with the company carving out a new niche for itself by taking on this family film. Production began on Benji way back in October 2016, but now the adventure is finally ready to see the light of day, ending this project's long journey to the screen.
A modern day retelling of the classic, the story of Benji follows one orphaned puppy and Carter and Frankie, two capricious New Orleans school kids who strike up a friendship with the tenacious street dog. When danger befalls them and they end up kidnapped by robbers who are in over their heads, Benji and his scruffy sidekick come to the rescue. Blumhouse picked up the project back in May 2016, just a few months before production started, but this project had been in the works for several years prior to Blumhouse coming aboard.
We first reported on this new Benji movie way back in 2010, when Walden Media acquired the project, with Brandon Camp, the son of Benji creator Joe Camp, set to write, direct and produce the project. We didn't hear any updates on the project until two years later, when a Facebook page for the movie surfaced that asked pet owners and animal shelters to submit pictures of their dogs to be considered to play the next Benji. It isn't ultimately clear yet where this new Benji was found, but hopefully we'll find out more as we get closer and closer to the March 16 premiere date.
Brandon Camp directs Benji from his own script, while also producing alongside Jason Blum. Gabriel Bateman and Darby Camp star as Carter and Frankie, the two siblings who find Benji on the street, with Kiele Sanchez playing their mother, a New Orleans police officer. The cast also includes Jerod Haynes, Gralen Bryant Banks, Angus Sampson, Will Rothhaar, Brady Permenter and Jim Gleason. The original Benji movie debuted in 1974, which would spawn a movie and TV franchise that continued for several years including movies such as For the Love of Benji (1977), Benji's Very Own Christmas Story (1978), Oh! Heavenly Dog (1980), Benji at Work (1980), Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland (1981), Benji the Hunted (1987), Benji's Film Festival (2001) and Benji: Off the Leash! (2004), along with the TV series Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince (1983) and a pair of documentaries, Benji's Life Story (1976) and The Phenomenon of Benji (1978).
Netflix has set a March 16 release date for Benji, and while it won't be debuting in theaters, it will arrive on the same date that Warner Bros. Tomb Raider, 20th Century Fox's Love, Simon and Roadside Attractions' I Can Only Imagine will hit theaters. Given how the original Benji movie spawned a massive franchise, it wouldn't be surprising if this movie does the same, but there have been no official announcements about the future of this potential franchise thus far. Take a look at the trailer, courtesy of Netflix YouTube, and the new poster below.