Characters from the children’s movie “Bigfoot Family” are shown in this handout photo. The Belgian director of the movie wants to thank the Alberta government’s energy war room for starting a “ludicrous” controversy that increased the number of streams of the film. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ben Stassen *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Characters from the children’s movie “Bigfoot Family” are shown in this handout photo. The Belgian director of the movie wants to thank the Alberta government’s energy war room for starting a “ludicrous” controversy that increased the number of streams of the film. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ben Stassen *MANDATORY CREDIT*

‘It’s silly:’ Director of Bigfoot movie thanks Alberta energy centre for controversy

The movie follows a character named Adam and his Bigfoot dad as they take on an evil oil tycoon from Texas

The director of a children’s movie about Bigfoot wants to thank the Alberta government’s energy centre for starting a “ludicrous” fight over the film.

Ben Stassen laughed several times as he told The Canadian Press that the animated “Bigfoot Family” had dropped from the top 10 list of most-viewed films on Netflix about 15 days after its February debut.

After the controversy earlier this month, “it went back up to number eight and stayed there until last Sunday,” Stassen, who also produced and wrote the movie, said from his home in Brussels.

He added that the movie also made it on the top 10 most-viewed list for other streaming services, such as iTunes and Google Play.

“There were probably between 30 and 50 million people who saw the film on Netflix over the last four weeks,” Stassen said.

“I don’t know to what extent, but the controversy helped the film rather than hurt.

“Thank you for doing it.”

The movie follows a character named Adam and his Bigfoot dad as they take on an evil oil tycoon from Texas, who wants to explode a fictional place named Rocky Valley for its oil.

The Canadian Energy Centre started a petition against the movie, urging people to send Netflix Canada letters saying the film villainizes energy workers and tells lies about the oil sector.

The energy centre, which is informally called the “war room,” is funded by the province to challenge false reports on the oil industry.

Both Premier Jason Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage have backed the its campaign against the film.

Stassen, who may be best known for his work on other animated movies such as “A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” said Netflix has received about 3,400 letters as part of the centre’s petition.

He said he first learned about the criticism when the movie’s script writers emailed him news stories.

“It’s just that it’s silly,” he said. “This is ludicrous. How can politicians get involved in the controversy about a kids’ cartoon?

“I mean Bigfoot lives in a house with a bear, you know, with a raccoon. And they all talk to each other. How can you spend public money to go after a family film that has no intention, other than to entertain?”

He said the movie is the sequel to the 2017 film “The Son of Bigfoot.”

“In the first film, Bigfoot survives thanks to nature. So he wants to give nature back what nature had given him to be able to survive all these years in the wilderness,” Stassen said.

“So that was the idea, nothing, you know, specifically for or against the oil industry.”

The CEO and managing director of the Canadian Energy Centre said in an email that its campaign against the movie has been a huge success.

“The CEC’s campaign received support from people concerned about mistruths presented to kids, and from energy workers who felt attacked,” said Tom Olsen.

He said Stassen needs to take responsibility for the messages he is spreading through his work.

“Regarding his thanking us, the movie was performing well before we got involved, and was the subject of complaints from parents.

“Shrugging it off as just a kids movie is a dodge.”

Stassen said he found it funny when he learned that in the 1950s Alberta actually approved a project dubbed “Project Cauldron,” which was to detonate a nuclear bomb to liquefy the thick oilsands near Fort McMurray. The provincial government’s website details the proposal and says it was eventually quashed.

“I know nothing about the oil industry, but I’m not that stupid to think that you extract oil by exploding a megaton bomb on the ground,” Stassen said.

Despite the similarity to Project Cauldron, he said his movie is fiction.

“It’s just entertainment. It has nothing to do with Alberta,” he said. “Why they felt targeted by the film, that I do not know.”

He added that he’s proud about possibly raising awareness of how bad drilling can be for wildlife.

“That’s the only thing that I was hoping people would get out of it.”

Stassen said he doesn’t know if there will be a third bigfoot movie, but if he gets the opportunity, he’ll take it.

“What would the next Bigfoot be? Maybe I’ll take him to Africa.”

—-

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Movies

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Registered Nurse, Teresa Friesen immunizes Dunrovin resident, Richard Brophy. Resident’s at the home were the first in Quesnel to receive COVID-19 vaccines. (Submitted Photo)
COLUMN: Vaccine floodgates should be opened

This editor’s column first appeared in the April 14 edition of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. girl’s wish granted as her cat came back, two years later

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

(Bandstra Transportation photo)
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Most Read