Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens

A teenage girl standing tall with three monsters in front of her and a cityscape behind her.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Conrad Vernon
Rob Letterman
Produced by Lisa Stewart
Screenplay by Maya Forbes
Wallace Wolodarsky
Rob Letterman
Jonathan Aibel
Glenn Berger
Story by
  • Rob Letterman
  • Conrad Vernon
Starring Reese Witherspoon
Seth Rogen
Hugh Laurie
Will Arnett
Kiefer Sutherland
Rainn Wilson
Paul Rudd
Stephen Colbert
Music by Henry Jackman
Edited by Joyce Arrastia
Eric Dapkewicz
Distributed by Paramount Pictures1
Release dates
  • March 27, 2009 (2009-03-27)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $175 million[1]
Box office $381.5 million[1]

Monsters vs. Aliens is a 2009 American 3D computer-animated science fiction action-comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.1 It was DreamWorks Animation's first feature film to be directly produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format instead of being converted into 3-D after completion, which added $15 million to the film's budget.[2]

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.[1] Although not successful enough to be followed by a sequel,[3] 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.


On the day of her wedding to news weatherman Derek Dietl, Susan Murphy of Modesto, California is struck by a meteorite which causes her to suddenly grow nearly fifty feet in height. She is tranquilized by the military and awakens in a top secret government facility that houses monsters. She meets the warden W.R. Monger, and fellow inmates: Dr. Cockroach P.H.D., a mad scientist who became half cockroach after an experiment; B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate), a brainless, living mass of goo as a result of a food flavoring mutation; Insectosaurus, a mutated bug standing at over 300 feet in height, and The Missing Link, a prehistoric fish man who was thawed from deep ice. Susan herself has been renamed to Ginormica. In deep space, an alien named Gallaxhar is alerted to the presence of quantonium; a powerful energy source on Earth, and he sends a probe to retrieve it. The probe rampages toward San Francisco after an abortive attempt at first contact by the president.

Monger arranges for the freedom of the monsters if they can stop the probe and the president agrees. The robot detects the quantonium radiating through Susan's body and tries to take it from her. The monsters work together to save the people and defeat the probe.

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. The monsters alienate themselves from the humans due to their inexperience with social situations, and Derek breaks off his engagement to Susan. Heartbroken, the monsters reunite, but Susan realizes her life is better as a monster and promises not to sell herself short to anyone again.

Suddenly, Susan is pulled into a large space ship piloted by Gallaxhar. Insectosaurus tries to save her, but he is shot down and apparently killed by the craft's weapons.

Gallaxhar extracts the quantonium from Susan, returning her to normal size. Gallaxhar then begins making clones of himself in order to launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Monger manages to get the monsters on board the ship. They rescue Susan and make their way to the main core where 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 confront Gallaxhar on the bridge. With 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. 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. Derek, hoping to take advantage of Susan's fame for his own career, tries to get back together with her, but she rejects him before a television audience. Monger then arrives to tell the monsters about a new monstrous snail called Escargantua making its way to Paris.

Cast and characters


Reese Witherspoon at the British premiere of the film.




The film started as an adaptation of a horror comic book, Rex Havoc,[4] in which a monster hunter Rex and his team of experts called "Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic" fight against ghouls, ghosts and other creatures.[5] The earliest development goes back to 2002, when DreamWorks first filed for a Rex Havoc trademark.[6] 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.[4] In the following years, the film's story diverged away from the original Rex Havoc, with directors Conrad Vernon and Rob Letterman ending up creating the storyline from scratch.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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 a 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."[9] 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 Ginormicatall, thin, athletic-lookingwalking 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.[8]

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.[10]

Since Monsters vs. Aliens, all feature films released by DreamWorks Animation are produced in a stereoscopic 3-D format, using Intel's InTru3D technology.[11] 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.[12]

Home media

Monsters vs. Aliens was released to DVD and Blu-ray in the US and Canada on September 29, 2009 and on October 26, 2009 in the UK. 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.[13] Also included are four pairs of 3D glasses.[13] On January 6, 2010, it was announced that a 3D version would be released on Blu-ray.[14] On February 24, a tentative March release date was set for the UK, where anyone who buys a Samsung 3D TV or 3D Blu-ray player will get a copy.[15] 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.[16]


Critical reception

Monsters vs. Aliens has received positive reviews. Based on 209 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Monsters vs. Aliens has an overall approval rating from critics of 72%, with an average score of 6.5/10, saying, "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".[17] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 56, based on 35 reviews.[18] Roger Ebert gave the film a mixed review, saying "I suppose kids will like this movie", but said "I didn't find [it] rich with humor."

Box office

On its opening weekend, the film opened at No. 1, grossing $59.3 million in 4,104 theaters.[19] 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.[20] The movie made $198,351,526 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 $381,509,870 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.[21] 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,[22] but lost to Jim Carrey for Disney's A Christmas Carol.[23] Monsters vs. Aliens was also nominated for Best Animated film but lost to Up.[23] On June 24, 2009 the film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film.[24]

Award Category Name Outcome
Annie Awards[25] Annie Award for Best Animated Effects in an Animated Production Scott Cegielski Nominated
Annie Award for Best Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Tom Owens Won
Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Hugh Laurie Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards[22] Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Seth Rogen Nominated
Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Favorite Animated Movie Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Saturn Awards[24] Saturn Award for Best Animated Film Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Visual Effects Society[26] Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture Terran Boylan
David Burgess
Scott Cegielski
David Weatherly
Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture David P. Allen
Amaury Aubel
Scott Cegielski
Alain De Hoe


Monsters vs. Aliens: Music from the Motion Picture
Film score by Henry Jackman
Released March 24, 2009
Genre Score
Length 65:52
Label Lakeshore

Track listing:[27][28]

All music composed by Henry Jackman, except as noted.

No. TitleArtist Length
1. "A Giant Transformation"    3:05
2. "When You See (Those Flying Saucers)"  The Buchanan Brothers 2:17
3. "Tell Him"  The Exciters 2:35
4. "A Wedding Interrupted"    2:09
5. "Meet the Monsters"    2:29
6. "Planet Claire"  The B-52's 4:37
7. "Do Something Violent!"    2:07
8. "The Grand Tour"    2:10
9. "Oversized Tin Can"    3:38
10. "The Battle at Golden Gate Bridge"    6:08
11. "Didn't Mean to Crush You"    1:51
12. "Reminiscing"  Little River Band 4:14
13. "Imprisoned by a Strange Being"    5:28
14. "Galaxar as a Squidling"    2:06
15. "March of the Buffoons"    5:15
16. "Wooly Bully"  Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs 2:21
17. "Susan's Call to Arms"    3:02
18. "The Ginormica Suite"    5:51
19. "Monster Mojo"    2:08
20. "The Purple People Eater"  Sheb Wooley 2:15
Total length:

Other media

Beside the main film, 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 TV 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.[29]


  1. ^ In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures.[30]


  1. 1 2 3 "Monsters Vs. Aliens". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
  2. Wloszczyna, Susan (March 11, 2008). "First look: Monsters vs. Aliens is the ultimate; a 3-D 'first'". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2008.
  3. Lieberman, David (April 26, 2011). "DreamWorks Animation Pins Hopes On 'Kung Fu Panda 2′ After 1Q Earnings Fall Short". Deadline New York. Don’t look for DreamWorks Animation to produce additional movie genre parodies similar to its send up of mob films in Shark Tale, monster movies in Monsters vs. Aliens, and superhero films in Megamind. “All shared an approach and tone and idea of parody, and did not travel well internationally,” CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in a conference call after earnings were announced. “We don’t have anything like that coming on our schedule now.”
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  5. Torfe, Pat (September 2, 2005). "Rex Havoc's a Dream". Joblo. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  6. "Rex Havoc". Trademarkia. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  7. Guillen, Michael (February 9, 2009). "MONSTERS vs. ALIENS—Jeffrey Katzenberg Presentation". The Evening Class. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  8. 1 2 "Modern Movie Monster-Making", Monsters vs. Aliens DVD
  9. 1 2 Barnes, Brooks (March 19, 2009). "The Monsters That Inspired 'Monsters vs. Aliens'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  10. Boshoff, Theo (March 31, 2009). "Monsters, aliens come alive". ITWeb.
  11. "Intel, Dreamworks Animation Form Strategic Alliance to Revolutionize 3-D Filmmaking Technology" (Press release). Intel. July 8, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  12. Nikki Finke (Mar 19, 2009). "WHAAAAAT? Bailed Out Bank Of America Paying Consumers To See Hollywood Film". Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily.
  13. 1 2 "Monsters vs. Aliens Hits DVD and Blu-ray on Sept. 29". July 8, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  14. ""Monsters Vs. Aliens" becomes first 3D Blu-Ray". January 6, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
  15. "'Monsters vs. Aliens' 3D Blu-ray Hits UK in March – Only From Samsung". February 24, 2010. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
  16. "Samsung 3D Blu-rays don't work?". March 8, 2010. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
  17. "Monsters vs. Aliens Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  18. "Monsters vs. Aliens". Metacritic. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  19. "Weekend Box Office Estimates (U.S.) for March 27–29 weekend". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  20. "Weekend Report: 'Monsters,' 'Haunting' Scare Up Big Business". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  21. Ellwood, Gregory (December 1, 2009). "'Up' and 'Coraline' Lead the 2009 Annie Award Nominees". HitFix. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  22. 1 2 "Miley Cyrus, Twilight Lead 2010 Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards Nominations". Take 40. February 15, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  23. 1 2 "Kids Choice Awards 2010 Winners". The Wall Street Journal. March 27, 2010. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  24. 1 2 Stransky, Tanner (June 25, 2010). "Saturn Awards: 'Avatar,' James Cameron, and 'Lost' take top honors". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  25. "37th Annual Annie Nominations and Awards Recipients". Annie Awards. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  26. Kilday, Gregg (January 18, 2010). "'Avatar' leads Visual Effects Society noms". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 17, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  27. "SoundtrackINFO: Monsters vs. Aliens Soundtrack (complete album tracklisting)". Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  28. "iTunes – Music – Monsters Vs. Aliens (Music from the Motion Picture) by Various Artists". Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  29. Schooley, Bob (February 16, 2014). "Ratings, desire of Nick to get back to the more "Nickish" shows.". Twitter. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  30. Chney, Alexandra (July 29, 2014). "DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short of Estimates, SEC Investigation Revealed". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
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