SpongeBob SquarePants movie skips theaters for streaming premiere


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run has a new destination.


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run has chosen to bypass its August theatrical release to instead go straight to video on demand early next year, before appearing on CBS All Access, according to a Variety report Monday. (Disclosure: CNET is owned by ViacomCBS.)

The coronavirus pandemic forced Paramount to delay the movie’s July theatrical release to Aug. 7, but it now follows the path of Trolls World Tour and Scoob! in skipping theaters and premiering instead on services like Amazon and iTunes.

It’s not clear how long it’ll be on those services before it heads to CBS All Access, which will house all seasons of the SpongeBob cartoon too as part of ViacomCBS’ rebranding and expansion of the subscription streaming platform.

SpongeBob movies are lucrative titles for Paramount: The first movie in 2004 took $141 million globally, and 2015’s Sponge Out of Water upped that to $325 million.

There are a couple of hints as to why Paramount chose the digital route. Other family-oriented film Trolls World Tour’s digital release in April took in nearly $100 million in its first three weeks, reportedly earning more for Universal than the original Trolls’ entire domestic theatrical haul. Scoob! reportedly fared well too when it arrived on digital in May, topping rentals in its opening weekend.

Read: Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob, on how lockdown affects the show

Unlike the cartoon, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is computer-animated with some live-action, and in keeping with its movie predecessors, will feature a few celebrity cameos (David Hasselhoff made waves in the first movie).

As you can see in the trailer below, one of those is Keanu Reeves, playing a character called Sage — “I’m made out of sage, and I am a sage, so it works out pretty well,” he says.

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