Principal photography of the film began on April 4, 2014, in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. It was released by Paramount Pictures in the United States on January 13, 2017, and received mixed reviews from critics. Monster Trucks grossed $64 million worldwide against its $125 million budget, leading Forbes and The Los Angeles Times to label it as a box office bomb.
Terravex Oil is in the midst of a fracking operation near a lake in North Dakota, overseen by CEO Reece Tenneson and geologist Jim Dowd. The operation releases three subterranean creatures and destroys the drilling rig. Two are captured by Terravex, but one of them escapes the site. Meanwhile, high school senior Tripp Coley is looking for something to do to escape the life of his family; his parents are divorced, his mother Cindy is in a relationship with Rick the town's sheriff, who fails to take him seriously, and has taken up a part-time job at a local junkyard, where he builds a pickup truck in hopes of being able to leave his town. One night, Tripp encounters the escaped creature in the junkyard and captures it, but the creature escapes before he can seek authorities.
The next day Tripp, along with classmate Meredith, finds the creature has a diet of oil and it takes shelter within the hood of his truck. He quickly befriends him, names him Creech, and promises to help him get home. Tripp modifies the truck to give Creech more control over the truck as a makeshift engine, and Meredith becomes quite impressed and surprised at Creech's speed and talent. Meanwhile, Tenneson is still concerned about the incident at the drilling rig that exposed Creech, since similar experiments have revealed the other two creatures. He decides to protect the company's image by drilling poison into a hole leading to the underwater tunnels, and by sending hired mercenary Burke to kill their captured creatures, to the objection of Jim, as he finds the monsters have significant intelligence and emotions. Tripp and Meredith go see Tripp's dad Wade to seek help.
When Tripp goes to check on Wade, however, he realizes he sold him out to Burke, and Tripp and Meredith escape in the truck with Creech, but not before destroying Wade's trailer. Tripp, Meredith, and Creech are chased by Burke and his team and Rick. Tripp, Meredith, and Creech manage to escape by jumping over a train, and camp at a hunting cabin owned by Meredith's father near the lake, while Rick chastises Burke for attempting to follow them himself.
When Creech gets the sense something bad will happen to the other creatures, he heads to the Terravex headquarters where the other creatures are being held captive. Tripp and Meredith follow Creech using Meredith's cellphone, as Trip left his phone in the truck. When they arrive, they find Creech's parents, but are attacked by Terravex workers. Creech arrives and is captured; Tripp and Meredith are taken to Tenneson, and he tells them to forget about Creech and his parents and has Burke escort them out.
Sympathetic to the creatures' plight, Jim decides to help Tripp and Meredith rescue the creatures. With the help of Tripp's junkyard boss, Mr. Weathers, they acquire two more trucks, one being a repossession from a rich teen who had failed to make payments, and another being the birthday present of his friend Sam Geldon, whose father owns a local car dealership. They modify the trucks for Creech's parents to control similar to Creech in Tripp's truck. Jim helps the group by stealing the Terravex truck on which the monsters, Creech's parents, are loaded on. At the dealership, the creatures take control of the modified trucks and the group make their escape up the mountain leading to the tunnels.
Terravex gives chase up the mountain and the group escape by using the trucks to jump over the edge of the mountain. On the way, Rick helps Tripp and the group escape from Burke. After realizing the poison has been inserted, Tripp gets into a head-on battle with Burke, who attempts to push him into the drilling hole, and Tripp overturns Burke's truck, destroying the poison machine, but not without falling into the hole. Creech saves him from drowning before he and his parents depart back home and Terravex is exposed by the group for the experimentation that was harming the creature's habitat. Tenneson is arrested, Tripp and Rick develop on good terms and together build a new engine for the truck, and Tripp and Meredith begin a relationship.Lucas Till as Tripp Coley, a high school senior.
Jane Levy as Meredith, Tripp's tutor and love interest.
Amy Ryan as Cindy Coley, Tripp's mother.
Rob Lowe as Reece Tenneson, the film's main antagonist.
Danny Glover as Mr. Weathers, Tripp's paraplegic boss.
Barry Pepper as Rick, the local sheriff and Cindy's new live-in boyfriend.
Holt McCallany as Burke, Reece's henchman and one of the film's villains.
Frank Whaley as Wade Coley, Tripp's estranged father and Cindy's ex-husband.
Thomas Lennon as Dr. Jim Dowd, a scientist.
Tucker Albrizzi as Sam Geldon, Tripp's friend.
Samara Weaving as Brianne
Daniel Bacon as Technician
On July 31, 2013, Paramount Animation announced that they were developing a new live-action/animated franchise, with an entry film titled Monster Trucks, and Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger set to write film's script. Chris Wedge was set to direct the film, which was produced by Mary Parent, with an initial release date set for May 29, 2015. Production took place in Vancouver Film Studios in Vancouver. On February 19, 2014, Jane Levy and Lucas Till joined the cast of the film. On March 24, Amy Ryan was cast in a role, and later that week, Holt McCallany joined the cast as a villain. On April 1, Frank Whaley and Danny Glover joined the cast of the film. Later that month, Thomas Lennon joined as well, and on April 14, Barry Pepper joined the cast. On April 24, Tucker Albrizzi, who starred in Big Time Rush, joined the cast, with Rob Lowe added five days later.
In December 2013, it was announced that the film's production would begin in early April 2014 in Vancouver, with filming wrapping up in mid-July, and the studio Vancouver Film Studios was booked for the production. Principal photography began on April 4, 2014, in Kamloops, British Columbia. Filming was spotted on May 13, 2014 in downtown Chilliwack, Canada.
The release date was shifted several times. It was initially set for May 29, 2015, but on January 26, 2015, the film was pushed back to December 25, 2015, a date first assigned for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. On May 5, 2015, the film was pushed back again, to March 18, 2016. On November 10, 2015, the film's release date was pushed back again, to January 13, 2017.
On September 21, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter stated Paramount would take a $115 million writedown on the film due to its expected poor performance at the box office.
Monster Trucks was released on Digital HD on March 28, 2017 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 11, 2017.
Monster Trucks grossed $33.4 million in the United States and Canada and $31.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $64.5 million.
In North America, Monster Trucks was released alongside the openings of The Bye Bye Man and Sleepless, as well as the wide releases of Silence, Patriots Day and Live by Night, and was expected to gross $8–10 million from 3,119 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up making $11 million ($14.2 million over the four-day MLK weekend), finishing 7th at the box office.
Due to its $125 million budget, as well as additional amounts spent on promotion, the film was labeled a box office bomb.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 32% based on 81 reviews and an average rating of 4.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Despite flashes of inspiration, the singularly high-concept Monster Trucks shows that it takes more than monsters and trucks to create a compelling feature film." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 41 out of 100 based on 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.