Theatrical release poster
Directed byDon Chaffey
Screenplay by
Story byJoseph Barbera
Produced by
CinematographyCharles F. Wheeler
Edited by
Music byHoyt Curtin
Distributed byAmerican International Pictures
Release date
  • August 31, 1979 (1979-08-31)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.5 million[1]
Box office$1.8 million[2]

C.H.O.M.P.S. is a 1979 American comic science fiction film produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions[3] and directed by Don Chaffey. It is one of Hanna-Barbera’s live-action productions, despite their being primarily known as an animation studio.


Brian Foster (Wesley Eure), a young inventor, creates a robotic dog for use as part of a home protection system. C.H.O.M.P.S. is an acronym for "Canine HOMe Protection System". Ralph Norton (Conrad Bain) is his boss, with whom he constantly argues. Foster develops a relationship with Norton's daughter, Casey (Valerie Bertinelli). A rival company wants the dog and sends a few petty criminals to kidnap "C.H.O.M.P.S."



Joseph Barbera approached his friend Samuel Z. Arkoff of American International Pictures about his company collaborating with Hanna-Barbera on live-action films. Though William Hanna and other members of Hanna-Barbera were not eager to venture beyond the animation field, according to Barbera, Arkoff was enthusiastic about the ideas that Barbera presented, and agreed in November 1975 to make four films together.[4] Barbera's first idea was for a film about a super-canine, robotic Doberman pinscher guard dog which would capitalize on several ideas popular at the time. Filming started in and around Los Angeles in May 1978, 2½ years after the collaboration was announced and was Hanna-Barbera's first live-action feature film.[1][4]

Barbera recalled that Arkoff's son Louis suggested that rather than a Doberman, the dog would have to be a non-threatening dog in the Benji mold. Barbera attributes this change in focus in the story to the film's lackluster performance at the box office. In his autobiography, Barbera wrote that the film "did okay... but it never made the splash it should have." Because of this, the future film deals between Hanna-Barbera and AIP were canceled.[5]

Burt Topper worked on the movie as producer with Barbera, with Arkoff as executive producer.[6][1]


A PG-rated version of C.H.O.M.P.S. was shown for a short time during the summer of 1979.[7][4] The stricter rating was due to some language employed by a dog—not the title character.[8] It was edited, with the canine profanity overdubbed, in order to receive a G rating and released during the Christmas season.[7][8] This version was released in Los Angeles on December 21, 1979.[4][9]

Critical reception

On the film's release, Variety wrote, "although it features a cute canine hero, a pair of do-gooding young people and a bevy of silly-minded adults, pic has little of the action or charm that lure audiences." The review noted that director Don Chaffey "has done what he can to keep the pic moving given what he has to work with." Of the performers, Variety judged, "Actors are uniformly okay but there's really only one star in this picture, 'Chomps.' Benji he's not."[7]

Judging the film to be "unpretentious but slightly dismal in its execution", the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The premise is engaging enough to entertain dog lovers and kids for awhile, but the screenplay... is mediocre television sitcom fare and too thin to sustain an entire movie."[10]


Scholastic Corporation released a 121-page book version of the film's story at the time of the film's first release.[11]

Home media

MGM Home Entertainment (part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the successor-in-interest to AIP) released C.H.O.M.P.S in DVD format on April 12, 2005.[12]


  1. ^ a b c "Delayed Start Of Productions From AIP /Hanna-Barbera Pact". Variety. May 10, 1978. p. 6.
  2. ^ Donahue, Suzanne Mary (1987). American film distribution : the changing marketplace. UMI Research Press. p. 301. Please note figures are for rentals in US and Canada
  3. ^ Sennett, Ted (1989). The Art of Hanna-Barbera: Fifty Years of Creativity. Studio. p. 259. ISBN 978-0670829781. Retrieved June 2, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d C.H.O.M.P.S. at the American Film Institute Catalog
  5. ^ Barbera, Joseph (1994). My Life in 'Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Under a Century. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing. pp. 195–197. ISBN 1-57036-042-1.
  6. ^ Harvey, Steve (May 4, 1978). "Studio Seeks Rare Breed of Star: SHAGGY DOG TRYOUTS". Los Angeles Times. p. d6.
  7. ^ a b c Berg. (December 26, 1979). "Chomps". Variety. p. 13.
  8. ^ a b Maltin, Leonard (1994). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. New York: Penguin Group. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
  9. ^ Ottoson, Robert (1985). American International Pictures: a filmography. Garland. p. 324. ISBN 0-8240-8976-6.
  10. ^ Gross, Linda (December 25, 1979). "Tail Wags the Dog in 'C.H.O.M.P.S.'". Los Angeles Times. p. 28.
  11. ^ "C.H.O.M.P.S. : from the Hanna-Barbera/American International Productions' film : book". WorldCat. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  12. ^ "C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979)". Amazon. Retrieved February 7, 2010.