The film was scheduled for a May 2009 release, but the release date was moved to March 27, 2009. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray September 29, 2009, in North America. The film features the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Paul Rudd and Stephen Colbert.
It grossed over $381 million worldwide on a $175 million budget and has a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Although not successful enough to be followed by a sequel, the film started a franchise consisting of a short film, B.O.B.'s Big Break, two television specials, Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots, and a television series with the same name.
Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) of Modesto, California is going to be married to news weatherman Derek Dietl (Paul Rudd). But before the ceremony, she gets hit by a meteorite and its energy causes her to grow uncontrollably during the ceremony. As a side-effect, her hair turns white. She is tranquilized by the military and awakens in a top secret government facility that houses monsters of which the public is ignorant. She meets General W.R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), the Army officer in charge of the facility, and her fellow monster inmates: Dr. Cockroach P.H.D. (Hugh Laurie), a mad scientist who became half-human, half-cockroach after an experiment; B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate) (Seth Rogen), a brainless, living mass of goo as a result of a food flavoring mutation; Insectosaurus, a massive mutated bug standing 350 feet in height, and the Missing Link (Will Arnett), a prehistoric fish-ape hybrid who was thawed from deep ice. Susan herself has been renamed to Ginormica.
In deep space, an alien overlord named Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) is alerted to the presence of quantonium, a powerful energy source on Earth, and he sends a robotic probe to retrieve it. The probe later lands on Earth where the President of the United States (Stephen Colbert) attempts to make first contact with it. However, the attempt fails and the probe goes on a destructive rampage, headed straight for San Francisco.
Monger convinces the President to grant the monsters their freedom if they can stop the probe. The robot detects the quantonium radiating through Susan's body and tries to take it from her, putting many lives at risk. At the Golden Gate Bridge, the monsters work together to save the people and manage to defeat the probe, at the cost of destroying the bridge.
Unbeknownst to the monsters, Gallaxhar sets course for Earth to obtain the quantonium in person while the now-free Susan returns home with her new friends and reunites with her family. However, the monsters alienate themselves from the humans due to their inexperience with social situations. Derek later breaks off his engagement with Susan, claiming that he cannot marry someone who would overshadow him and his career. Heartbroken, the monsters reunite, but Susan realizes that her life is better as a monster and promises not to sell herself short to anyone again.
Suddenly, Susan is pulled into Gallaxhar's ship. Insectosaurus tries to save her, but he is shot down by the ship's plasma cannons, seemingly killing him.
Gallaxhar extracts the quantonium from Susan, shrinking her back to her normal size. Gallaxhar then uses the extracted quantonium to create clones of himself in order to launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Monger manages to secretly get the monsters on board the ship. They rescue Susan and make their way to the main power core where Dr. Cockroach sets the ship to self-destruct to prevent the invasion. All but Susan are trapped as the blast doors close and she goes to personally confront Gallaxhar on the bridge. With her time running out, she sends the ball of stored quantonium down on herself, restoring her monstrous size and strength. After rescuing her friends, they flee the ship and meet with Monger and Insectosaurus, who has morphed into a butterfly after having been in a cocoon following the attack. As they flee, the ship self-destructs with Gallaxhar and his army still on board, killing the aliens inside.
Returning to Modesto, Susan and the monsters receive a hero's welcome. Hoping to take advantage of Susan's fame for his own career, Derek tries to get back together with her, but she rejects him before a television audience by flicking him high into the air, only to be swallowed and spat out by B.O.B. Monger then arrives to tell the monsters about a new monstrous snail called Escargantua making its way to Paris. The monsters take off and fly away to Paris to confront the new menace.Reese Witherspoon as Susan Murphy / Ginormica
Seth Rogen as B.O.B.
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Cockroach
Will Arnett as The Missing Link
Conrad Vernon as Insectosaurus
Rainn Wilson as Gallaxhar
Amy Poehler as Gallaxhar's Computer
Kiefer Sutherland as General Warren R. Monger
Stephen Colbert as President Hathaway
Paul Rudd as Derek Dietl
Jeffrey Tambor as Carl Murphy
Julie White as Wendy Murphy
Renée Zellweger as Katie
John Krasinski as Cuthbert
Ed Helms as News Reporter. David Koch replaced Helms for the Australian edit.
The film started as an adaptation of a horror comic book, Rex Havoc, in which a monster hunter Rex and his team of experts called "Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic" fight against ghouls, ghosts and other creatures. The earliest development goes back to 2002, when DreamWorks first filed for a Rex Havoc trademark. In a plot synopsis revealed in 2005, Rex was to assemble a team of monsters, including Ick!, Dr. Cockroach, the 50,000 Pound Woman and Insectosaurus, to fight aliens for disrupting cable TV service. In the following years, the film's story diverged away from the original Rex Havoc, with directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman finally creating the storyline from scratch.
Production designer David James stated that the film is "a return to what made us nerds in the first place," getting classic movie monsters and relaunching them in a contemporary setting. Director Conrad Vernon added that he found it would be a great idea to take hideous monsters and giving them personalities and satirizing the archetypes. Each of the five monsters has traits traceable to sci-fi/horror B movies from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, although none is a mere copy of an older character. Susan, who grows to be 49 feet 11 inches tall, was inspired by Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Dr. Cockroach represents The Fly and The Curse of Frankenstein, while B.O.B. is an amalgam of slithering and slimy characters that were featured in the films, including The Blob and The Crawling Eye. Insectosaurus, a 350-foot-tall monster, is a nod to the 1961 Japanese film Mothra. According to Vernon, the Missing Link has no direct inspiration. He "just represents anything prehistoric that comes back to life and terrorizes people." For the San Francisco sequence, the producers researched lots of films and photographs for an accurate depiction of the city, and filmed animator Line Andersen, who had a similar body type to Ginormica—tall, thin, and athletic-looking—walking alongside a scale model of San Francisco, to capture better how a person not comfortable with being too big with an environment would walk around it.
Ed Leonard, CTO of DreamWorks Animation, says it took approximately 45.6 million computing hours to make Monsters vs. Aliens, more than eight times as many as the original Shrek. Several hundred Hewlett-Packard xw8600 workstations were used, along with a 'render farm' of HP ProLiant blade servers with over 9,000 server processor cores, to process the animation sequence. Animators used 120 terabytes of data to complete the film. They used 6 TB for an explosion scene.
Ever since Monsters vs. Aliens was made, all feature films released by DreamWorks Animation were produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format, using Intel's InTru3D technology. IMAX 3D, RealD and 2D versions were released.
To promote the 3-D technology that is used in Monsters vs. Aliens, DreamWorks ran a 3-D trailer before halftime in the U.S. broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009. Due to the limitations of current television technology, ColorCode 3D glasses were distributed at SoBe stands at major national grocers. The Monsters, except Susan and Insectosaurus, also appeared in a 3-D SoBe commercial airing after the trailer. Bank of America gave away vouchers which covered the cost of an upgrade to a 3-D theatrical viewing of the film for its customers.
Monsters vs. Aliens was released to DVD and Blu-ray in the United States and Canada on September 29, 2009, and on October 26, 2009, in the United Kingdom. The home release for both the DVD and Blu-ray format only contain the 2D version of the movie. However, the release is packaged with a new short, B.O.B.'s Big Break, which is the more traditional 3D that required green and magenta glasses. Also included are four pairs of 3D glasses. On January 6, 2010, it was announced that a 3D version would be released on Blu-ray. On February 24, a tentative March release date was set for the United Kingdom, where anyone who buys a Samsung 3D TV or 3D Blu-ray player will get a copy. On March 8, it was reported that the 3D Blu-ray would be released in the United States, also with Samsung 3D products, on March 21. In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox.
Based on 209 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Monsters vs. Aliens has an overall approval rating from critics of 72% and an average score of 6.5/10. The consensus reads: "Though it doesn't approach the depth of the best animated films, Monsters Vs. Aliens has enough humor and special effects to entertain moviegoers of all ages". Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 56/100 based on 35 reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5/4 stars, saying, "I suppose kids will like this movie", though he "didn't find [it] rich with humor".
On its opening weekend, the film opened at No. 1, grossing $59.3 million in 4,104 theaters. Of that total, the film grossed an estimated $5.2 million in IMAX theaters, becoming the fifth highest-grossing IMAX debut, behind Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Dark Knight and Watchmen. The film grossed $198.4 million in the United States and Canada, making it the second-highest grossing animated movie behind Up. Worldwide, it is the third-highest grossing animated film of 2009 with a total of $381.5 million behind Up and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
In 2009, the film was nominated for four Annie Awards, including Voice Acting in a Feature Production for Hugh Laurie. Reese Witherspoon and Seth Rogen were both nominated for best voice actor and actress at the 2010 Kids' Choice Awards for voicing Susan and B.O.B, but lost to Jim Carrey for Disney's A Christmas Carol. Monsters vs. Aliens was also nominated for Best Animated film but lost to Up. On June 24, 2009, the film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film.
All music composed by Henry Jackman, except as noted.
Beside the main film, the Monsters vs. Aliens franchise also includes a video game, a short film B.O.B.'s Big Break, and two television specials, Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space and Night of the Living Carrots. A television series based on the film started airing on Nickelodeon on March 23, 2013, which was cancelled after one season due to low ratings and the network's plans to refocus on more "Nickish" shows.