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

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Volunteers sort through bottles and cans during Saturday's fundraiser for hospice. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley hospice holds drive-through bottle drive

Bike team is fundraising for the annual Cycle of Life tour on Vancouver Island

The Village of Cumberland is applying for a UBCM grant to help streamline development application processes. Black Press file photo
Cumberland looks to streamline development

“This looks like the best thing we’ve ever applied for.”

Security camera image of 7-Eleven robbery suspect. Photo supplied.
Late-night Courtenay robbery results in 500-plus days in jail

Heatley’s sentence also includes probation, DNA order, firearms ban

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read