Benji the Hunted (1987)

G | 88 mins | Children's works, Adventure, Drama | 17 June 1987

Director:

Joe Camp

Writer:

Joe Camp

Producer:

Ben Vaughn

Cinematographer:

Don Reddy

Editor:

Karen Thorndike
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HISTORY


       Following the end credits, there is a still photograph of Benji accompanied by the word “Woof.”
       On 19 Mar 1986, Var announced a $6.7 million two-picture deal, overseen by Embark Production Company, which included partners Ed Vanston, I. C. Deal, and writer-director Joe Camp. According to Camp, the deal marked “the largest fund ever formed in Texas for Texas-based productions.” As creator of the “Benji” franchise, Camp and his Mulberry Square Productions were listed as “general and limited” partners as both producers and distributors. Var stated that Benji the Hunted was set to be the first picture produced in Embark Production Company’s venture, with principal photography scheduled to begin 1 Jun 1986. While Ed Vanston is listed onscreen as executive producer, I. C. Deal is not credited.
       Although various contemporary sources, including a 4 Sep 1986 HR news item, stated that filming began 2 Jun 1986 in Salem, OR, DV production charts on 23 Jul 1986 reported that principal photography began ten days later, on 12 Jun 1986 in Newport, OR. Production was planned to continue through the summer at OR locations including Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood. According to HR, Camp initially set a production end date the week of 25 Aug 1986, but the shooting schedule had been delayed due to poor weather conditions, and filming was expected to continue until mid-Sep 1986. A 7 Aug 1986 Var brief added that the seventy-two day production schedule had been increased to ninety days.
       As noted in a Jun 1987 edition of Box, the ... More Less


       Following the end credits, there is a still photograph of Benji accompanied by the word “Woof.”
       On 19 Mar 1986, Var announced a $6.7 million two-picture deal, overseen by Embark Production Company, which included partners Ed Vanston, I. C. Deal, and writer-director Joe Camp. According to Camp, the deal marked “the largest fund ever formed in Texas for Texas-based productions.” As creator of the “Benji” franchise, Camp and his Mulberry Square Productions were listed as “general and limited” partners as both producers and distributors. Var stated that Benji the Hunted was set to be the first picture produced in Embark Production Company’s venture, with principal photography scheduled to begin 1 Jun 1986. While Ed Vanston is listed onscreen as executive producer, I. C. Deal is not credited.
       Although various contemporary sources, including a 4 Sep 1986 HR news item, stated that filming began 2 Jun 1986 in Salem, OR, DV production charts on 23 Jul 1986 reported that principal photography began ten days later, on 12 Jun 1986 in Newport, OR. Production was planned to continue through the summer at OR locations including Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood. According to HR, Camp initially set a production end date the week of 25 Aug 1986, but the shooting schedule had been delayed due to poor weather conditions, and filming was expected to continue until mid-Sep 1986. A 7 Aug 1986 Var brief added that the seventy-two day production schedule had been increased to ninety days.
       As noted in a Jun 1987 edition of Box, the film was particularly challenging due to its remote locations, as well as the use of various animals, including a timber wolf, a Kodiak bear, two rabbits, a raccoon, a skunk, and a frog. Camp noted that in real life, such animals would be “mortal enemies,” and had to be trained to disconnect with their natural instincts. Box added that the film was focused entirely on the animal actors, with human dialogue featured only in the first twelve minutes of the picture. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that seventy-five percent of the film was devoid of dialogue and people. The finale was reportedly shot at the top of a 3,500-foot mountain over a two-week period, with the animals and crew transported by helicopter each day.
       On 20 Mar 1987, DV announced that the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc., had purchased the film’s worldwide distribution rights. In addition, Camp signed a development agreement with Disney to create “motion pictures and television properties.” However, no such collaborations were produced as of Jun 2014.
       Benji the Hunted was released 17 Jun 1987 to generally mixed reviews, but earned $13,438,491 in its first seventeen days of release in 1,188 theaters.
       The film was the third installment in the “Benji” series, preceded by Benji (1974, see entry), and For the Love of Benji (1977, see entry). A fourth film in the franchise, Benji: Off the Leash was released in 2004 (see entry). In addition, the “Benji” series aired several times on television: the ABC television movie, Benji’s Very Own Christmas (1978), and the CBS science fiction series, Benji, Zax, & the Alien Prince, which began late-1983.

      Opening credits include, “A thousand thanks to Benji’s best friends Mr. and Mrs. Frank Inn.” End credits note the movie was “filmed entirely on location in Oregon and on Table Mountain, Washington.” End credits also include thanks to the “Mulberry Square Staff, the Embark Support Team.”

              End credits further list “special thanks and appreciation to the Film and Video division, Oregon Department of Economic Development; Parks and Recreation Division, Oregon Department of Transportation; State Highway Division, Oregon Department of Transportation; U.S. Forest Service, Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon; U.S. Forest Service, Willamette National Forest, Oregon; Commanding Officer and Crew, U.S. Coast Guard Station, Yaquina Bay; Chamber of Commerce, Newport, Orgeon; Chamber of Commerce, Astoria, Oregon; KGW-TV, Portland, Oregon; Union Pacific Railroad; Transwestern Helicopters, Inc.; Department of Natural Resources, State of Washington; Department of Game, State of Washington.” Additionally, end credits include thanks to “the wonderfully patient and cooperative people of Hood River County, Oregon; Yachats, Oregon; Port of Cascade Locks, Oregon; Clatsop County, Oregon; City of Astoria, Oregon.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jun 1987
p 16-17.
Daily Variety
27 May 1986.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1986.
---
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1986.
---
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1987.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1987.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1987
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jun 1987
p. 1.
New York Times
17 Jun 1987
p. 18.
Screen International
7 Jun 1986.
---
Variety
19 Mar 1986
p. 19.
Variety
7 Aug 1986.
---
Variety
12 Jun 1987.
---
Variety
17 Jun 1987
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Walt Disney Pictures Presents
A Film by Joe Camp
An Embark Production
In association with Mulberry Square Productions
In association with Silver Screen Partners III
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Prod mgr/1st asst dir
Key 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Supv prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Mystery grip
Grip/Elec
Elec
Loc video
2d unit cam
Cam asst
ART DIRECTORS
Dir of art
Asst art
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Loc ed asst
Negative cutter
Video transfers by
SET DECORATORS
Dir of props
Asst props
Greensman
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus comp
Mus supv
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice ed ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley rerec mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Dir of spec eff
Asst spec eff
Title des by
Titles/opticals
PRODUCTION MISC
Wild animals furnished and trained by
Spec cougar work
and Gideon
Benji's trainer
Benji's trainer
Wild animal trainer
Wild animal trainer
Wild animal trainer
Wild animal trainer
Bear trainer
Eagle trainer
Eagle trainer
Post prod video tech
Prod coord
Prod's asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Video syncronizer
Office asst
Office asst
Office asst
Transportation
Transportation
Loc auditor
Emergency medical tech
Scr supv
Scr supv
Scr supv
Scr supv
Scr supv
Helicopter pilot
Canine coiffures
STAND INS
Stunt animals
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Too Many Yesterdays," lyrics by Joe Camp, music by Euel Box and Betty Box, performed by Guy Hovis.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Series:
Release Date:
17 June 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 June 1987
Production Date:
began 12 June 1986 in Oregon and Washington
Copyright Claimant:
Embark Production Company
Copyright Date:
24 June 1987
Copyright Number:
PA327702
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
CFI
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Oregon, canine actor “Benji” has gone missing while filming a movie on location. Benji’s trainer, Frank Inn, tells a television reporter that he and Benji had been on an open fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean when a storm came in, capsizing the vessel. Inn fears Benji is dead, but the movie producers plan to search the wilderness coastline with a helicopter. The next day, Benji lies in the brush near the shoreline when a helicopter flies overhead, but he goes unnoticed. Benji wanders through the woods and comes across a female mountain lion perched atop a boulder. Just then, a hunter shoots the lioness. Benji licks her wound, and tugs at her ears, but the animal is dead. A few minutes later, the hunter comes and carries his prey away. When the helicopter flies overhead again, Benji runs after it, barking to no avail. Benji hears noises and discovers the dead lioness’ four baby mountain lions, just a few weeks old. One of the cubs runs toward Benji, but the dog picks him up in his mouth and returns him to the lion den amidst the rocks. When the cub tries to climb out again, Benji barks to keep him in the den. Benji makes friends with the cubs, then gets berries for them, but they refuse the food. While hunting, Benji comes face to face with a rabbit, but licks it twice, and leaves. Benji finds a cabin where a quail is being cooked over an open fire. When the hunter takes the cooked bird inside, Benji spies two additional dead quails hanging on a line nearby. He grabs one of the birds and ... +


In Oregon, canine actor “Benji” has gone missing while filming a movie on location. Benji’s trainer, Frank Inn, tells a television reporter that he and Benji had been on an open fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean when a storm came in, capsizing the vessel. Inn fears Benji is dead, but the movie producers plan to search the wilderness coastline with a helicopter. The next day, Benji lies in the brush near the shoreline when a helicopter flies overhead, but he goes unnoticed. Benji wanders through the woods and comes across a female mountain lion perched atop a boulder. Just then, a hunter shoots the lioness. Benji licks her wound, and tugs at her ears, but the animal is dead. A few minutes later, the hunter comes and carries his prey away. When the helicopter flies overhead again, Benji runs after it, barking to no avail. Benji hears noises and discovers the dead lioness’ four baby mountain lions, just a few weeks old. One of the cubs runs toward Benji, but the dog picks him up in his mouth and returns him to the lion den amidst the rocks. When the cub tries to climb out again, Benji barks to keep him in the den. Benji makes friends with the cubs, then gets berries for them, but they refuse the food. While hunting, Benji comes face to face with a rabbit, but licks it twice, and leaves. Benji finds a cabin where a quail is being cooked over an open fire. When the hunter takes the cooked bird inside, Benji spies two additional dead quails hanging on a line nearby. He grabs one of the birds and drags its body back to the den for the cubs. The next day, a young deer runs by and two otters play in a nearby creek while Benji collects rocks to make the den higher so the cubs cannot get out. Benji returns to the cabin to get the other dead quail, but the hunter catches him and ties him up. Reading Benji’s collar, the hunter remembers there is a reward for the dog’s rescue. When the hunter goes inside, Benji tugs at the rope, trying to break free. Just then, a black wolf growls at Benji. When the hunter comes outside, the wolf runs away. As Benji paces the area as far as the rope will allow, the wolf comes back and Benji makes a commotion. The hunter comes outside to see about the noise, scaring the wolf away. The hunter briefly unties Benji while trying to unravel his rope. Benji grabs the other dead quail in his mouth and runs back to the cubs. Benji sees an adult female mountain lion and barks, but she growls at him. Benji then moves the cubs to a new location, carrying each of them individually in his mouth. While doing this, the helicopter flies overhead and Benji sees his trainer in the window. By the time Benji has finished moving the cubs to the new den, another animal has eaten the quail. Benji searches for more food, barking at the cubs when they try to follow him. Meanwhile, the wolf begins to movie in on the cubs, but the helicopter flies overhead, scaring him away.
The next day, Benji sees the mountain lion and the wolf nearby. The wolf chases Benji, but the dog manages to elude him. Later, the four cubs follow Benji along the path. A large brown Kodiak bear comes into the clearing. Benji and the cubs hide, but one of the cubs runs toward the bear, hissing at him. The bear growls, scaring the cub back to the hiding place. When the bear moves toward them, Benji barks and runs the opposite direction. The bear gives chase, but soon loses interest. However, the wolf appears again and chases Benji. They run a long distance over the mountain until Benji leads the wolf to the bear. The bear growls and scares the wolf away. Later, the mountain lion drinks from the stream when one of the cubs approaches. Just then, the helicopter flies overhead, scaring the lioness away. When Benji spots the lioness again, he barks at the cubs to follow him across the stream. The helicopter lands nearby and Frank Inn gets out, calling for Benji. The dog looks between his master and the cubs playing, but does not make a move. Unaware Benji is nearby, Inn gets back into the helicopter and flies away. Later, an eagle swoops down, grabs one of the cubs in its talons and flies off. When the eagle later flies near the three remaining cubs, Benji barks to scare it away in time. Benji spots the lioness and sees the cub that the eagle took following closely behind her. Benji barks at her repeatedly until she gives chase, but Benji loses her along the way. Although Benji almost falls into the deep ravine, he climbs to safety. From the top of the cliff, Benji sees the cubs below. Benji finds the lioness near the waterfall. Benji runs to get the cubs, but finds the wolf watching the cubs. Benji barks at the wolf, then bites at him. The cubs hide under a rock where the wolf cannot reach them. Benji jumps on the wolf’s back, then runs away. As the wolf gives chase, Benji runs up the side of the mountain and leads him to the edge of the cliff. The wolf runs off the cliff. Benji lures the cubs to come out from under the rock and carries one of the cubs up the side of the steep mountain in his mouth. At the top, Benji leaves the first cub, then goes back down the cliff to get the others. With all three cubs on the mountaintop, the mountain lion appears. She sniffs the cubs and nuzzles them. The cub that has been following the lioness comes into the meadow, sees its siblings and runs to join them. The lioness lies down and the four cubs nurse from their adoptive mother. Benji goes to rest in plain sight in the meadow just as the helicopter approaches.



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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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