The film was released on September 26, 2014, by Focus Features, to generally positive reviews from critics. The film earned $109 million on a $60 million budget. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.
In the fictional hill-top town of Cheesebridge during the Victorian era, rumors abound that subterranean trolls (known as Boxtrolls for the cardboard boxes they wear) have kidnapped and killed a young child. Pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher strikes a deal with the city's leader Lord Portley-Rind to exterminate every Boxtroll in exchange for membership in the city's cheese-loving council called the White Hats, despite the fact that he is severely allergic to cheese.
In actuality, the Boxtrolls are peaceful and emerge from underground at night to scavenge for discarded items with which to make useful inventions. A human boy named Eggs lives among them, cared for by a Boxtroll named Fish. As Eggs grows up, he becomes dismayed by the disappearing Boxtrolls seized by Snatcher. After Lord Portley-Rind's daughter Winnie sees Eggs with two Boxtrolls, Snatcher captures Fish. Eggs sneaks to the surface to find Fish and emerges in an annual fair to commemorate the disappearance of the "Trubshaw Baby" who was allegedly killed by Boxtrolls.
Disgusted by the town's inaccurate portrayal of the creatures, Eggs follows Winnie. After a brief exchange, he asks her for directions to Snatcher's headquarters, located at an abandoned factory, where Eggs rescues Fish. They are caught in the escape. Snatcher recognizes Eggs as the Trubshaw Baby and reveals that all the captured Boxtrolls are building him a machine. Winnie, who covertly followed Eggs, overhears this exchange. She then helps Eggs and Fish escape from Snatcher and they take shelter in the Boxtrolls' caves, where Fish explains that Eggs' father had given him to them to keep him from Snatcher. Winnie agrees to help Eggs tell Portley-Rind the truth. At a ball held to commemorate the purchase of a giant cheese wheel called the Briehemoth, Eggs tries to confront Portley-Rind, but is confronted by Snatcher (disguised as a woman named "Madame Frou-Frou"). Whilst trying to avoid Snatcher, Eggs inadvertently knocks the cheese wheel into a river. Eggs announces himself to the party as the Trubshaw Baby, but no one believes him, including Portley-Rind who is too upset about losing the cheese wheel.
Eggs tries to persuade the remaining Boxtrolls to flee for their own safety, but Snatcher digs into the caves and captures them all. Eggs awakens to find his father Herbert Trubshaw a prisoner beside him. He sees the Boxtrolls stacked in a crusher and begs them to leave their boxes and run, but they are apparently killed by the crusher.
Snatcher drives his machine to Lord Portley-Rind's house, shows him the flattened boxes as proof of the Boxtrolls' extinction, and demands Portley-Rind's white hat (his symbol of office) in exchange for killing the last Boxtroll (actually Eggs disguised). The Boxtrolls (who are revealed to have survive the crusher) and Herbert free Eggs while Snatcher tries to take Portley-Rind's hat by force. With Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles, who switch sides, Eggs, Winnie, Herbert, and the Boxtrolls disable the machine. Mr. Gristle is crushed to death by the machine as Eggs and Snatcher are thrown clear and land on the recovered Briehemoth, where Snatcher's allergy to cheese causes him to expand to an enormous size. Subsequently fueled by his failure, he grabs Winnie and forces Lord Portley-Rind to give up his hat in exchange for her safety, but he graphically explodes into pieces after consuming an aged cheese.
Thereafter the townspeople co-exist peacefully with the Boxtrolls. Winnie tells the tale of Snatcher's end to a crowd, while Eggs and Fish drive off in one of Herbert's contraptions.
In a mid-credits scene, Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles clean the streets as they are shown getting moved by one of Laika's employees and Mr. Pickles explains this process, breaking the fourth wall.Isaac Hempstead Wright as Eggs, an orphaned human boy raised by the Boxtrolls.Max Mitchell as Baby Eggs
Ben Kingsley as Archibald Penelope Snatcher, a ruthless, antagonistic and cunning pest exterminator who also cross-dresses as Madame Frou-Frou.
Elle Fanning as Winnie Portley-Rind, Eggs's first human friend and the daughter of Lord and Lady Portley-Rind.
Dee Bradley Baker as Fish, Wheels, and Bucket, three Boxtrolls.
Steve Blum as Shoe and Sparky, two Boxtrolls.
Toni Collette as Lady Cynthia Portley-Rind, Winnie's mother and Lord Portley-Rind's wife.
Jared Harris as Lord Charles Portley-Rind, Winnie's father, the cheese-obsessed leader of the White Hats, and the leader of Cheesebridge.
Nick Frost as Mr. Trout, Snatcher's corpulent, bumbling, yet intellectual henchman.
Richard Ayoade as Mr. Pickles, Snatcher's tall, spindly, well-meaning but misguided henchman.
Tracy Morgan as Mr. Gristle, Snatcher's diminutive and maniacal henchman.
Simon Pegg as Herbert Trubshaw, a brilliant inventor and Eggs's father.
Nika Futterman as Oil Can and Knickers, two Boxtrolls.
Pat Fraley as Fragile and Sweets, two Boxtrolls.
Fred Tatasciore as Clocks and Specs, two Boxtrolls.
Maurice LaMarche as Sir Langsdale
James Urbaniak as Sir Broderick, Male Workman #1, Male Workman #2
Brian George as Boulanger, Male Cristocrat #3
Lori Tritel as Female aristocrat #1
Laraine Newman as Female Townsfolk #1, Female Townsfolk #2
Reckless Jack as Background boy
In June 2008, Laika unveiled a slate of projects in development, among which was also an animated feature film adaptation of the Alan Snow novel Here Be Monsters!, eventually to become The Boxtrolls. The animation technique wasn't yet decided upon, but Anthony Stacchi was set to direct the film. Laika announced on February 7, 2013, that the adaptation would be their next 3D stop motion feature, under the title The Boxtrolls. Directed by Stacchi and Graham Annable, Laika CEO Travis Knight noted that the biggest challenge of the film was to condense a 550-page novel down to a 90-minute film. Initially the film focused on all five species of creatures found in the original book, but Knight noted that the script "ultimately was hollow" with all the monsters noting "It didn't really have anything to say." The team ended up focusing on the Boxtrolls as Knight thought "there was something that was really compelling about that group of characters".
On February 7, 2013, Focus Features originally set the film for an October 17, 2014, release, In May 2013, the release date was changed to September 26, 2014. Focus Features holds worldwide distribution rights to The Boxtrolls, and Universal Pictures International released the movie overseas (with eOne Distribution handling Canada).
On June 11, 2014, two new trailers, one for the US and one for the UK, were released by the studio. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2014.
The Boxtrolls was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 20, 2015, by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
On December 4, 2013, composer Dario Marianelli was hired to score The Boxtrolls, the first animated feature film of his career. On August 30, 2014, it was announced that Back Lot Music would release a soundtrack album for the film on September 23, 2014.Track listing
All music composed by Dario Marianelli, except as noted.
The Boxtrolls earned a gross of $50,769,750 in North America, and $57,418,465 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $108,188,215 against a budget of $60 million.
In the United States and Canada, it earned $17.2 million in its opening weekend from 3,464 theaters, debuting at number three at the box office behind The Equalizer and The Maze Runner. It had a strong 3.5x weekend multiplier off its $4.9 million opening day, which is more front-loaded than Coraline (3.8x) but played much less front-loaded than ParaNorman (3.11x). It set the record for the biggest opening weekend for Laika surpassing 2009's Coraline ($16.8 million), and the second-biggest for a stop-motion animation film behind Laika's 2005 co-production, Corpse Bride ($19.1 million).
In other territories, The Boxtrolls earned $5.1 million from 1,806 screens in 16 countries in its opening weekend. In terms of total earnings, its largest markets are the United Kingdom and Ireland ($13.8 million), Australia ($5.8 million) and Mexico ($5 million). It is Laika's highest-grossing film overseas, surpassing ParaNorman's $51.1 million.
The film-critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, reported 75% positive reviews, based on 146 critics, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's consensus states: "While it's far from Laika's best offering, The Boxtrolls is still packed with enough offbeat wit and visual splendor to offer a healthy dose of all-ages entertainment." On Metacritic, the film has a rating of 61 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Tom Huddleston of Time Out gave the film three out of five stars, saying "Breathlessly paced and surreally funny, The Boxtrolls fizzes with visual invention and wild slapstick. But the grotesquerie is overbearing." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave the film a negative review, saying "A surprisingly charmless and aimless movie from Laika Studios, who previously crafted the wonderfully dark Coraline and ParaNorman, this latest venture seems destined to disturb young viewers while thoroughly boring their parents." Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly gave the film a B+, saying "The Boxtrolls is a kiddie charmer that makes you laugh, cower and think of Hitler. That's an unusual trifecta, but then again, this is an unusual film." James Rocchi of Film.com gave the film a 5.8 out of 10, saying "The Boxtrolls is a swing-and-miss for Laika; when you move forward with revolutionary techniques while standing still in terms of your themes, stories and settings, no amount of technical trickery or animation genius can bring the boring to vivid life." Jake Coyle of the Associated Press gave the film a positive review, saying "The Boxtrolls, despite a rather uncertainly structured story by screenwriters Irena Brignull and Adam Pava, has its pleasantly demented charms." Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Engaging as it is to look at, this stop-motion animation film from the young Oregon studio Laika seems to have been masterminded by people thinking, "Everyone loves Pixar. So let's do everything the opposite!""
A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+, saying "In an age when most cartoon companies have traded pens for pixels, the magicians at Laika continue to create fantastically elaborate universes out of pure elbow grease." John Hartl of The Seattle Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Visually the film is a feast, stuffed with little jokes and surprises and the kind of black humor that Alfred Hitchcock heartily enjoyed." Brian Truitt of USA Today gave the film three out of four stars, saying "A delectable treat that balances themes of identity and class warfare with Monty Python-style political skewering, quirky humor and dairy jokes." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film two out of four stars, saying "One gets the sense that directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable have their hearts in the action sequences and not in the characters, and that's a problem." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying "The Boxtrolls remains relentlessly busy up through its final credits, and it's clever in a nattering way. But it's virtually charmless." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The story of The Boxtrolls, in lesser hands, might have turned out only so-so. Under Laika's loving, labor-intensive touch, it takes on a kind of magic." Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a positive review, saying "The Boxtrolls has its penny-dreadful moments, but it's mostly a larkish stroll through a cemetery where the monsters are the good guys."
Ethan Gilsdorf of The Boston Globe gave the film a positive review, saying "Like one of its wondrously designed steampunky contraptions, The Boxtrolls is a marvelous thing to behold, and watch spin, even if it doesn't go anywhere terribly interesting." Bruce Demara of the Toronto Star gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "From Laika, the animation studio that brought you such memorably quirky classics as Coraline and ParaNorman comes another totally offbeat and original tale for kids (and adults) looking for something a little more challenging and completely off the wall." Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The Boxtrolls has moments of humor and imagination, but American children may not be its ideal audience." A.O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "In The Boxtrolls, old-fashioned stop-motion animation is combined with new-style 3-D cinematography to charming effect." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review, saying "There’s a crucial shortage of heart here, from the messy storytelling to the hit-or-miss humor and unattractive visuals." Steve Persall of the Tampa Bay Times gave the film a D, saying "The Boxtrolls is a visually repellent pile of stop-motion animation, populated by grotesques and filmed in the palette of an exhumed casket's interior. It can frighten small children and bore anyone, with its cracked, cackled British wit." Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film two out of five stars, saying "Kids who get a kick out of the macabre will enjoy this exquisitely crafted but tedious film."