Planet 51

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Planet 51
Canadian theatrical release poster
Directed byJorge Blanco
Screenplay byJoe Stillman
Story by
  • Javier Abad
  • Jorge Blanco
  • Marcos Martínez
  • Ignacio Pérez Dolset
Produced by
  • Ignacio Pérez Dolset
  • Guy Colins
Edited byAlex Rodríguez
Music byJames Brett
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 14 November 2009 (2009-11-14) (Westwood)
  • 20 November 2009 (2009-11-20) (Canada)
  • 27 November 2009 (2009-11-27) (Spain)
  • 4 December 2009 (2009-12-04) (United Kingdom)
Running time
91 minutes[3]
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
Budget49 million[4]
(US$70 million)[2]
Box office$105.6 million[2]

Planet 51 is a 2009 computer-animated science fiction comedy film directed by Jorge Blanco and co-directed by Javier Abad and Marcos Martínez, from a script by Joe Stillman, based on an original idea by Javier Abad, Jorge Blanco, Marcos Martínez and Ignacio Pérez Dolset. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, Seann William Scott and John Cleese, the film follows an astronaut who lands on an alien planet, as one of the aliens helps him return to his ship while evading the military.

An international co-production by Spain, the United Kingdom, and Canada, with the studios Ilion Animation Studios based in Madrid, and HandMade Films in London, the film was originally acquired for North American distribution by New Line Cinema, but then sold to Sony Pictures before completion.[5][6][7][8] Originally titled Planet One,[9] and later named as an allusion to Area 51, the film was completed on a $70 million budget, which, as of 2010, was the most expensive film produced in Spain.[4]

Planet 51 was released on 20 November 2009 in the United States and Canada by Sony Pictures Releasing's TriStar Pictures and Remstar Media Partners respectively, on 27 November in Spain by DeAPlaneta Distribución, and 4 December in the United Kingdom by HandMade Films International. The film grossed $105.6 million in the worldwide box office. It received generally negative reviews from critics, but earned the Goya Award for Best Animated Film in Spain.


On Planet 51[N 1], green extraterrestrials live peacefully in a society reminiscent of the United States during the 1950s, although the planet's and their nature provide notable differences from Earth and, notably, ignorance about astronomy leads to believing that the whole Universe extends for almost 500 miles.

One day, a mysterious spacecraft lands in the city of Glipforg. NASA[N 2] astronaut Chuck Baker emerges from it and is shocked to find the planet inhabited. Panicked, Chuck escapes to the town's planetarium, where he meets teenage alien Lem, who works there part-time. Chuck convinces Lem to help return him to his spacecraft before command module Odyssey in Planet 51's orbit departs for Earth in three days and leaves him stranded. Planet 51's army, led by the paranoid General Grawl, arrives to inspect and deduces that the astronaut is an alien invader bent on turning the planet's population into zombies, similar to how invaders are depicted in media, and a manhunt ensues.

Lem enlists the help of his best friend Skiff, an eccentric science fiction aficionado with conspiracy theories about the so-called "Base 9" (Planet 51's equivalent of Area 51), to hide Chuck away from the army. During his efforts to conceal Chuck, Lem inadvertently upsets his neighbor and crush Neera, who believes the alien is friendly, and is also fired from his job when his boss discovers Chuck. In Lem's room, Chuck reunites with a dog-like NASA probe called Rover, which freed itself from the army's base after tracking Chuck with a GPS and headed for the city and which befriends a small, domesticated Xenomorph. After the army searches Lem's home for traces of the alien, Lem and Skiff move Chuck to a comic book store Skiff works at, where the news station manages to capture Chuck acting out references to Earth's pop culture, which is misinterpreted as alien threats. After escaping the store from the invading army, Grawl has Chuck's spacecraft moved to a secret location to be dismantled and studied. Chuck is later captured by Grawl's forces during a festive movie premiere in town, and is slated to have his brain removed by alien scientist Professor Kipple. When Lem defends Chuck, Kipple deems him a zombie minion. Resigned to his fate, Chuck pretends to release Lem from his "mind control" and is taken away with Rover to Base 9.

Lem gets his job back, but is determined to rescue Chuck and gets into his flying car. Joined by Skiff, Neera, her younger brother Eckle, and Rover, Lem tracks down Base 9's location in the desert to a gas station where Skiff inadvertently opens a gate to the underground base. They free Chuck from Kipple and find his spacecraft, but they are cornered by Grawl and his forces. Bent on eliminating the human, Grawl reveals he has the base rigged to explode. Lem attempts to reason with the General to not shoot Chuck but inadvertently activates the countdown. Enraged, Grawl attempts to shoot Lem, but Eckle tosses a hook to him and ignites an explosive, causing him to be trapped under debris. Chuck rescues him before launching his spacecraft into Planet 51's orbit, escaping Base 9's destruction. After admiring Planet 51's view from space, Lem successfully asks Neera out on a date, while Grawl expresses his gratitude to Chuck for saving him. Chuck returns his friends home and allows Rover to stay behind with Skiff, who has bonded with the probe, and bids Lem and the rest of the town farewell before launching back into space.

In a mid-credits scene, Kipple climbs out of the underground base, but is taken back to his own lab for brain surgery by two of his own patients, whom he wrongly deemed to be mind controlled by Chuck earlier. Meanwhile, Chuck is stuck being licked by the Xenomorph pet as he comments that 'this is going to be a long trip'.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Justin Long as Lem Korplog, a teenage boy living in Glipforg on Planet 51.
    • Long also voices Rover, a robotic vehicle probe that studies the planet (mostly rocks).
  • Dwayne Johnson as Captain Charles T. "Chuck" Baker, a human NASA-astronaut.
  • Jessica Biel as Neera, a teenage girl and Lem's love interest.
  • Seann William Scott as Skiff, Lem's best friend, who works at a comic-book store.
  • Freddie Benedict as Eckle, Neera's younger brother.
  • Gary Oldman as General Grawl of the Army of Planet 51, who fear an alien invasion.
  • John Cleese as Professor Kipple, a scientist and Grawl's right-hand man.
  • Mathew Horne as Soldier Vesklin, a gullible soldier.
  • James Corden as Soldier Vernkot, another gullible soldier.
  • Alan Marriott as Glar, a ukulele-playing hippie.
  • Rupert Degas as Chief Gorlock.


Planet 51 is based on the original idea by Jorge Blanco, Marcos Martínez, Ignacio Pérez Dolset and Javier Abad. The film finished production by June 2009.[10]

The name change from Planet One to Planet 51 was a result of the demands made from another entity branded "Planet One" which produces children and teen TV programmes. They made contact with the film's producers early on to resolve the trademark and brand confusion issues. The Spanish film company behind it, Ilion Animation Studios, made an offer to the existing entity for all ownership rights to their "Planet One" trademarks and related website URLs. Planet One chose not to take that offer and to protect their brand and trademarks that had been active for many years. As a result, the film's producers chose to rename the film Planet 51: a reference to the top-secret military base, Area 51, where conspiracy theorists claim that data and specimens from a space alien that landed on Earth in 1947 are stored.

The character of Lem was named by screenwriter Joe Stillman after Polish science-fiction writer Stanisław Lem. Since the film was intended to be a parody of American pulp science fiction shot in Eastern Europe, Stillman thought it would be hilarious to have the name hint about a writer whose works have nothing to do with "little green men" stereotypes.[11]


In November 2007, New Line Cinema had picked up the United States distribution rights; the studio itself was to release the film in the summer of 2009.[7] However, TriStar Pictures became the film's home after New Line Cinema sold the rights to them through Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.[8] According to the Variety magazine, New Line Cinema's owner, Warner, "decided to let the pic go after the producers insisted on a November release, when Warner is releasing its sixth Harry Potter pic."[8] The new distributor moved the U.S. release date from the summer of 2009 to November of that year.[8]

The movie was released in the US on 20 November 2009. The movie was then released a week later in Spain, on 27 November 2009, where it was distributed by DeAPlaneta.

Home media[edit]

The film was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on Blu-ray and DVD on 9 March 2010; it would also see various other rereleases alongside other animated and/or family films by Sony Pictures afterwards, including as part of a triple pack with Surf's Up and The Pirates!: Band of Misfits.[3]


Box office[edit]

The film was released in 3,035 cinemas, grossing $3.2 million on its opening day and $12.6 million over the weekend, resulting in the number four position at the box office behind 2012, The Blind Side and The Twilight Saga: New Moon respectively.[12] During its theatrical run, it made over $42 million, with a total of $105 million worldwide.

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reported that 23% of critics gave Planet 51 positive reviews based on 110 reviews with an average score of 4.2/10. The site's consensus reads: "Planet 51 squanders an interesting premise with an overly familiar storyline, stock characters, and humor that alternates between curious and potentially offensive."[13] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave it a metascore of 39, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews" , based on 21 reviews.[14]

Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly graded the film a B, as it "delivers a few pleasant surprises, including a smart story".[15] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave 212 stars out of 4 and positively wrote of the film being "perfectly pleasant as kiddie entertainment, although wall-to-wall with pop references to the American 1950s."[16] Furthermore, some critics such as Markovitz of EW,[15] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer,[17] and Brian Miller of The Village Voice[18] acknowledged Planet 51 as "an E.T. in reverse" (a role reversal where the human is the "alien").


Award Category Nominee Result
Artios Award[19] Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Animation Feature Ruth Lambert and Robert McGee Nominated
Cinema Writers Circle Awards[20][21] Best New Artist Jorge Blanco Won
European Film Awards[22] Best Animated Feature Film Jorge Blanco, Javier Abad and Marcos Martínez Nominated
Goya Awards[23][24] Best Animated Film Won
Best Original Song Tom Cawte for the song "Stick It to the Man" Nominated


Planet 51
Soundtrack album
Released10 November 2009 (digital)
17 November 2009 (CD)
LabelDecca Label Group

The soundtrack album for the film was released by Decca Label Group on 10 November 2009 (digital) and 17 November 2009 (CD).[25][26]

1."Lollipop"Sophie Green2:30
2."Long Tall Sally"John Sloman2:10
3."Tried To Save the World"Tom Cawte3:49
4."Ding Ding a Boom Boom"Keith Murrell2:25
5."Gonna Be a Star"Tom Cawte3:35
6."Be Bop a Lula"Chris Cawte3:01
7."Greased Lightnin'"Lance Ellington3:10
8."Unchained Melody"Keith Murrell3:37
9."Mr. Sandman"Peter Gosling2:30
10."Stick It to the Man"Tom Cawte3:29
11."Space Oddity"Keith Murrell5:19
12."Planet 51 Orchestral Suite"London Metropolitan Orchestra7:19
Total length:42:54

Video games[edit]

A video-game based on the film was announced in November 2009. The game, an action-driving game,[27] was published by Sega and was released on Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360 on 17 November 2009.[28] The console versions was developed by Pyro Studios and the Nintendo DS version was developed by Firebrand Games.[29] Zed Group, a long-time customer of Trinigy's, worked on the online version of the game with the Vision Engine.[30] There are also Planet 51 games for iPhone,[31][32] mobile devices and Facebook, developed by Zed Worldwide.[citation needed]


  1. ^ The name of the planet is never mentioned in the film, only the title suggests what it's called.
  2. ^ Although the NASA logo is shown in the film, posters and covers show a fictional "Space Agency" logo.


  1. ^ "Cine y producción audiovisual". Grupo Planeta. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Planet 51". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b Kapko, Matt (9 March 2010). "Planet 51 on Blu-ray and DVD, Plus More". Animation World Network. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b Adler, Tim (4 April 2010). "New Spanish Film Law Bad for Hollywood". Deadline. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Planet 51 (EN)". Lumiere. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Planet 51 (2009)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  7. ^ a b Hopewell, John (27 November 2007). "New Line lands on 'Planet 51′". Variety. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d Siegel, Tatiana; McNary, Dave (8 July 2008). "'Planet 51′ heads into Sony orbit". Variety. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  9. ^ *"Planet One Poster" from TrailerAddict, 12 December 2007.
  10. ^ "ILION AND HANDMADE FILMS TAKE NEW LINE TO ANOTHER PLANET". Ilion Animation Studios. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2008.[dead link]
  11. ^ Lem wśród zielonych ludzików
  12. ^ "'New Moon' wolfs down $140.7M in opening weekend". Associated Press. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  13. ^ "Planet 51 Movie Reviews, Pictures". IGN Entertainment. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  14. ^ "Planet 51 (2009): Reviews". CNET Networks. Metacritic. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  15. ^ a b "Planet 51 Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  16. ^ "Planet 51 Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  17. ^ "The astronaut's the alien on 'Planet 51'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  18. ^ "The Pleasantly Mediocre Planet 51". The Village Voice. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  19. ^ "2010 Artios Award Winners". Casting Society of America. 1 November 2010. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Medallas del CEC a la producción española de 2009". Círculo de Escritores Cinematográficos. Archived from the original on 10 February 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  21. ^ Belinchon, Gregorio (9 February 2010). "Celda 211 triunfa en los premios CEC". El Pais. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Three nominees for the Best Animated Feature Film prize". Cindeuropa. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Los Goya 2010 - Finalistas" (PDF). Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 February 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  24. ^ Hopewell, John (14 February 2010). "'Cell 211' dominates Goya awards". Variety. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Planet 51 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". iTunes. January 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  26. ^ "Planet 51". Amazon. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  27. ^ Beanz (31 December 2009). "Planet 51: The Game Review". GameGrin. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  28. ^ "Planet 51 Game Details Announced". IGN. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  29. ^ Jones, Simon (17 June 2009). "FIREBRAND Games Announces Planet 51 The Game On Nintendo DS". Peppermint. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  30. ^ Graft, Kris (13 October 2009). "Planet 51 Online Game Using Trinigy Vision Engine". Gamasutra. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  31. ^ "Planet 51". iTunes. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  32. ^ "Planet 51 Racer". iTunes. Retrieved 29 June 2012.

External links[edit]